There are a variety of issues that can increase the risk of having a PAD. Fortunately, many of the risk factors can be avoided or managed. The more factors you control, the more you reduce your risk of PAD.
Chemicals in tobacco smoke contribute to the build up of plaque in the arteries, increasing your risk of atherosclerosis
. Smoking can also cause immediate changes in blood vessels like spasming which can affect blood flow.
is the best way to put yourself on the right track. Talk with your doctor about tools and programs to help you quit. Secondhand smoke can be damaging as well, so try to avoid that when possible.
Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you are overweight or
, talk to your doctor about a plan to lose weight. Adopt a sensible eating plan and exercise regularly. Plan to lose weight
gradually, to help you maintain your weight at the desired level. Consider consulting with a dietitian, who can help you with meal planning and portion sizing.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Your diet can affect on your "bad" and "good" cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
General guidelines include adding fish, which contains
omega-3 fatty acids, to your diet at least twice per week. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take omega-3 supplements.
Regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, using a stationary bike, or treadmill, can help improve blood vessel health and blood flow. Regular exercise will help also help strengthen the heart muscle, decrease the heart's workload, and lower blood pressure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day on most days of the week.
If you are at high risk for PAD, your doctor may recommend taking daily aspirin to help control blood clots. Blood clots may be more likely to form and cause greater problems in people wiht PAD. Since aspirin therapy is not without risk, be sure to consult with your doctor before taking an aspirin a day.
Manage Other Health Conditions
Certain medical conditions are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and PAD. While not all risk can be eliminated, carefully managing these conditions can greatly decrease the risk of blood flow problems. Work with your doctor to help manage:
- High Cholesterol
Hills AJ, Shalhoub J, et al. Peripheral arterial disease. Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2009;70(10):560-565.
How can peripheral arterial disease be prevented? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pad/prevention.html. Updated June 2, 2014. Accessed June 23, 2014.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of lower extremities. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 13, 2014. Accessed June 23, 2014.
Prevention and treatment of PAD. American Heart Association
website. Available at:
Updated February 26, 2014. Accessed June 23, 2014.