How to Prevent PAD – Part II
Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD may be caused by many factors. Those factors out of your control are called “non-modifiable” risk factors. In our 9/16/22 post, we discussed 5 key non-modifiable risk factors. In this post, we will discuss “modifiable” risk factors or those factors that you have the control to change.
5 Modifiable PAD Risk Factors
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is carried around the body by proteins. If too much LDL cholesterol is present, it can cause these fatty substances to build up in the artery walls and lead to complications. In particular, high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – also known as “bad cholesterol” are linked with many cardiovascular diseases.
High levels of LDL are often caused by factors modifiable lifestyle choices such as:
- unhealthy diet,
- smoking, and
- physical inactivity.
In order to reduce the potential for cholesterol to build up in your arteries, consider eating a balanced diet, quitting smoking and regular exercise.
There is also another type of cholesterol called High-density lipoprotein (HDL). Unlike LDL, HDL is known as “good cholesterol” and can help lower your risk of developing heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and stroke.
2. High blood pressure
High blood pressure, known as hypertension, is another contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, including peripheral arterial disease. Even though elevated blood pressure rarely causes symptoms, it can still have a significant negative impact on your health. High blood pressure is often linked to:
- being overweight,
- physical inactivity, and
- high intake of salt or alcohol.
Lifestyle changes may help to reduce high blood pressure. In some cases, medication may be prescribed.
Diabetes is a condition that is caused by high levels of glucose in the blood and is a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease including PAD. High glucose levels can damage the artery walls and make the buildup of fatty deposits more likely.
Eating a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes or reduce the severity of the disease in patients already diagnosed. Careful management of blood sugar levels is also very important.
Smoking tobacco significantly increases the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. It also damages and narrows the arteries and can cause heart attacks and PAD. Nicotine also makes the heart beat faster and increases blood pressure, meaning the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body.
The good news is that soon after quitting smoking, health benefits such as improved circulation, better taste and smell and a stronger immune system can usually be noticed.
5. Physical inactivity
Being physically inactive is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and PAD. Lack of exercise increases your chances of being overweight, of having high blood pressure and of developing other conditions that make cardiovascular disease more likely.
Generally, at least 150 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise per week is recommended. If this is not possible, any amount of physical activity is always preferable to none at all.
Contact us today to see how we can help! PAD is a complex disease and if you have any of the risk factors above, there is still hope! There is a lot you can do to improve your health and we are here to help. Contact us today and one of our Vascular Specialists can thoroughly evaluate and treat you!
Shammas NW. Epidemiology, classification, and modifiable risk factors of peripheral arterial disease. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2007;3(2):229-34. doi: 10.2147/vhrm.2007.3.2.229. PMID: 17580733; PMCID: PMC1994028.