People who smoke and/or have diabetes are at especially high risk. If you have risk factors, get screened for PAD, even if you're not having symptoms.
PAD risk factors you can control:
Certain risk factors for PAD can't be controlled, such as aging or having a personal or family history of PAD, cardiovascular disease or stroke. However, you can control many risk factors including:
- Cigarette smoking - You can stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for PAD. Smokers may have four times the risk of PAD than nonsmokers. Our guide to quitting smoking can help you.
- Obesity - You can reduce your weight. People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or higher are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Calculate your BMI and learn healthy ways to manage your weight.
- Diabetes mellitus - You can manage diabetes and blood sugar levels. Having diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing PAD as well as other cardiovascular diseases. Learn more about the risks and how to manage diabetes.
- Physical inactivity - You can get moving. Physical activity increases the distance that people with PAD can walk without pain and also helps decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke. Supervised exercise programs are one of the treatments for PAD patients.
- High blood cholesterol - You can manage your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which can significantly reduce the blood's flow. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. Managing your cholesterol levels is essential to prevent or treat PAD.
- High blood pressure - You can manage your blood pressure. It's sometimes called "the silent killer" because it has no symptoms. Work with your healthcare professionals to monitor and control your blood pressure.
You can choose more than one target to improve! Taking care of only one risk factor is not as effective as taking care of all those that you can control. Learn the facts. Develop a heart-healthy lifestyle and cooperate with your healthcare professionals. Your heart will thank you by functioning better and lasting longer.
*Information from the American Heart Association