If you or someone you love are among the estimated 6.5 million Americans suffering from an arterial disease called peripheral artery disease or PAD, you are aware that restricting blood flow not only impacts simple movements like walking, but also may lead to a heart attack, stroke or even amputation.
The good news is that just because you have PAD doesn’t mean it’s inevitable that the worse case scenario will happen, says board-certified interventional cardiologist and vascular surgeon, Saleem Saiyad, MD. In this blog, Dr. Saiyad shares insights on how to lessen your PAD symptoms and perhaps even reverse them.
In order to truly understand how you can impact the progression of peripheral artery disease, let’s take a deeper dive into what PAD is and how it can deter the healthy operation of your body. It all comes down to the circulation of oxygenated blood.
Every tissue, cell and organ in your body depends on receiving nourishment – oxygenated blood to do its particular function. When someone suffers from an arterial disease like PAD fatty deposits or plaque build up in the blood vessel walls disrupt that flow by narrowing or blocking the channel.
This restriction of blood flow, sometimes colloquially referred to as hardening of the arteries, if left untreated, can cause tissue or cells in the legs, feet or toes to die, leading to a condition called gangrene which may require amputation. Similarly, PAD puts patients at a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, such as heart attack and stroke.
While peripheral artery disease is a progressive condition, seeking treatment, following doctor’s orders, and making healthy lifestyle choices can reduce symptoms, stop the progression of the disease in its tracks and even may reverse the symptoms.
If you suffer from PAD and use tobacco products one of the most impactful changes you can make is to stop smoking or using tobacco products. Sadly, tobacco users are more prone to die of a heart attack or stroke or suffer a limb amputation as a result of their PAD diagnosis. If you have PAD, we can help you find a smoking cessation program. Quitting tobacco can literally save your life as well as improve your overall health.
Similarly, getting existing chronic conditions like diabetes under control and contributing risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure, helps you manage your PAD symptoms. All these different medical conditions have one important thing in common – if left unmanaged or untreated, they can damage your blood vessels.
Lifestyle choices that contribute to high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and high blood triglycerides are the very things that can also turnaround your peripheral artery disease diagnosis. One key lifestyle change to jumpstart the process to living healthier and addressing your PAD symptoms is eating balanced meals. Think heart healthy meals with an emphasis on low-sodium and low-fat.
Diets like the Mediterranean or DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) are examples of helpful diets. Each focuses on cutting out processed food, which tends to be laden with salt, fat, and sugar. Instead, build meals around vegetables, fruits and whole grains, lean protein, poultry and fish, legumes and healthy nuts. Eating healthier has another great plus that improves your PAD – it helps you manage a healthy weight.
Another lifestyle tweak that can help your PAD symptoms may initially seem counter initiative – get up and keep active. If you suffer from pain and leg cramps due to artery blockages, increasing activity may be the last thing on your mind.
Exercising regularly may accomplish two important things – relieve pain and slow down or stop PAD’s progression. When you get active, it leads to the formation of new blood vessels, which in turn improves circulation. Simple exercise like walking can make a big difference. Remember to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
If you are concerned about peripheral artery disease, contact Premier Vein & Vascular for an evaluation today. Schedule an appointment online at one of our offices in Tampa or Largo, Florida.