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5 Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Prevent or Treat PAD

Your lifestyle has a powerful impact on your heart and blood vessels, and the arteries in your legs are no exception. That’s why lifestyle changes can prevent peripheral artery disease (PAD) or help treat the condition, slowing the progressive changes that lead to complications.

Kishore K. Arcot, MD, FACC, at Memphis Vein Center, offers comprehensive vascular care. He’s available to help if you want a PAD risk assessment and support for preventing the disease, need a noninvasive screening to identify arterial changes, or need customized treatments.

Here, he discusses how PAD develops and explains the top five lifestyle changes you can make to prevent and treat the condition.

How PAD develops

PAD develops when cholesterol sticks to the artery wall. The fatty plaque keeps accumulating more fat. As it enlarges, it hardens the artery wall, causing atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease that increasingly limits blood flow through the artery. Without treatment, your circulation becomes so limited that nonhealing wounds and skin problems develop, and tissues die (gangrene).

Lifestyle recommendations

These are the top five lifestyle changes to make if you want to prevent PAD or improve your health after we diagnose the disease.

Stop smoking

Smoking is the top preventable cause of PAD. The toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke harm your blood vessels, triggering inflammation and swelling and creating damaged areas where cholesterol takes hold and builds up.

If you already have high blood pressure (hypertension), obesity, or high cholesterol, smoking magnifies their impact, further raising your risk for PAD.

Stopping smoking helps prevent PAD. If you already have the condition, no amount of smoking is safe, even just one or two cigarettes a day.

We understand it’s hard to stop smoking, and we’re here to help. We can recommend a smoking cessation program and prescribe medications.

Boost your activity level

Regular exercise improves circulation and keeps blood vessels healthy. Staying active also prevents Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension — three diseases that directly promote atherosclerosis and PAD.

Exercise is also part of your PAD treatment. A supervised exercise program alleviates PAD symptoms, increases your ability to walk without pain, and slows disease progression.

Follow a healthy eating plan

The foods you eat can support or damage your cardiovascular system and prevent or accelerate PAD. How? An unhealthy diet causes the underlying health issues responsible for heart and blood vessel disease.

Your dietary choices can raise blood pressure, lead to high cholesterol and blood sugar, and produce vascular inflammation.

The Mediterranean diet and DASH eating plan are two of the best for supporting your overall health and preventing or treating PAD (and other cardiovascular diseases). They offer the same recommendations: Avoid unhealthy foods and enjoy healthy foods.

Cut back on salt and unsaturated fats found in red meat and whole dairy products. It’s also essential to limit or eliminate sugar. Both plans recommend a diet that includes:

Maintain a healthy weight

Carrying extra weight also contributes to the health conditions that cause atherosclerosis and PAD. Your risk for PAD is even higher if you tend to accumulate weight around your waist. 

The basics of weight loss include limiting your calories, following a healthy eating plan, and exercising.

Limit alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol increases your blood pressure, and high blood pressure raises your risk for PAD. This effect is temporary if you occasionally relax or socialize with an alcohol-containing beverage.

But excessive daily consumption (more than three drinks daily for women and four for men) and repeated binge drinking can lead to permanently high blood pressure or can worsen existing hypertension.

Need help with lifestyle challenges?

Our team at Memphis Vein Center in Memphis, Tennessee, is here to help if you feel overwhelmed or have questions about how to build a healthy lifestyle. Call our office or connect through online booking to schedule an appointment and get the ongoing support you need to maintain your quality of life.

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