About 6.5 million American adults age 40 and over have peripheral artery disease, a circulation problem that can cause serious, life-threatening complications. PAD happens when sticky plaques build up in the arteries in your limbs, impeding the normal flow of blood. PAD can happen in your arms, but typically, it affects the legs.
As a leading vascular surgeon in Warner Robins, Georgia, Dr. Allison Burkett uses advanced diagnostic and treatment techniques for PAD. In this post, she reviews four ways to help prevent PAD and the complications it can cause.
The sticky plaques that build up inside arteries are made up mostly of cholesterol, a waxy substance that your body needs to keep cells and tissue healthy. Our bodies produce about 80% of the cholesterol we need to stay healthy with the remainder coming from the foods we eat.
Eating an unhealthy diet can lead to excess cholesterol in the bloodstream. Eventually, some of this cholesterol can wind up as plaques that narrow the arteries and make it harder for blood to pass through. This condition is called atherosclerosis (“hardening” of the arteries).
A nutritious diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Good nutrition also helps with maintaining a healthy weight, which is important since obesity increases the risk of PAD.
Most people know physical activity is good for the heart — but did you know it’s good for your blood vessels, too? When you’re active, your circulation increases, helping prevent plaque formation.
In addition to reducing your risk of developing PAD, exercise can help relieve painful symptoms in people already diagnosed with the disease. In fact, regular exercise — especially walking — is often recommended for people who have PAD.
Before beginning any exercise program, it’s important to talk with the doctor. Most people with PAD undergo supervised exercise therapy, at least initially, to ensure their activity benefits their symptoms and doesn’t make them worse.
Recognizing the symptoms of PAD helps you get medical care faster, before serious complications occur.
Symptoms to watch for include:
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to have them evaluated right away.
PAD symptoms can be subtle, so it’s also important to know your risk factors. The most common risk factors for PAD include:
If you have any of these factors, it’s important to discuss PAD with your doctor to determine if you need to be screened. Your provider might recommend additional screenings for heart disease or stroke.
If you have symptoms of PAD or if you have risk factors for the disease, scheduling a vascular evaluation with Dr. Burkett is essential for preventing potential life-threatening problems. To learn more about PAD and its treatment, call (478) 238-5513 or book an appointment online at Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center & Vein Solutions today.