Risk Factors for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Many people who experience pain and cramping in their legs think of it as a natural part of aging. However, it could be caused by peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This condition is a result of fatty deposits in the arteries, causing the blood vessels to narrow or become blocked altogether. People who have PAD are at a higher risk for coronary artery disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Although this debilitating condition affects between 8 and 10 million Americans, not all of them know they have it. Learning the risk factors can help. Here is what you should know.

Risk Factors for PAD

PAD is a condition that affects both men and women. However, there are a number of factors that can increase your risk of PAD. Some of the risk factors can be mitigated, but others are beyond individual patients’ control. Common risk factors include:

  • Age over 60 years
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Atherosclerosis, a type of arteriosclerosis

The prevalence of PAD increases with age, with people 80 and above in the highest risk group. It can affect people of any background, but the risk is higher among African Americans.

Reducing Your Risk of PAD

Many risk factors for PAD, like aging, are immutable. But, there are some that can be affected through lifestyle choices.

The CDC says that getting plenty of physical activity can help prevent PAD or improve symptoms among people who already have the disorder. Research indicates that a supervised exercise training program can make it easier to walk longer distances and can reduce pain during walking that is caused by PAD. You can cut your PAD risk by not smoking or quitting if you already do.

PAD risk also goes down among people with high blood pressure or diabetes when those conditions are better managed. The right treatment plan varies by individual. A combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, surgical interventions may be necessary to get PAD under control.

Empower Yourself with Knowledge About Your Health

Are you at risk for peripheral arterial disease? If you have PAD risk factors or symptoms, we can do an assessment and, if needed, get you the treatments for this condition.

Make an appointment with The Vascular Institute of Virginia today. Call us at 703-763-5224 to schedule a consultation.

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