Risk Factor Modification: Smoking and diabetes are the two most critical, controllable risk factors that patients with PAD need to control. Tobacco use damages the arterial walls which makes it easier for plaque to build up and cause complications such as leg pain, non healing wounds, and amputation. More than 80% of patients with PAD are current or former smokers. PAD in smokers develops approximately ten years earlier and has double the risk of amputation when compared to non smokers. If you need help quitting smoking, our physicians will help you obtain information on medication, nicotine replacement products, and programs to make it easier
In addition, diabetes raises blood sugar levels which can damage the vessel walls and cause plaque buildup. 1 in 3 patients over 50 with diabetes develop PAD. People with diabetes are also prone to developing foot ulcers and toe gangrene which may require vascular attention to help with healing. Our physicians will work with you to make sure your blood sugar levels are stable and diabetes is well controlled.
Diet: Two of the main ingredients in plaque are cholesterol and fat. Therefore, It is important to maintain a diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Foods with these components can elevate cholesterol levels making it more likely for plaque to build up in the arteries and cause narrowing. Our physicians will work with you to develop a customized, feasible, heart healthy diet plan.
Exercise: Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment option in delaying the progress of plaque buildup. In addition, patients with PAD who engage in routine exercise start to develop vessel collateralization. Collateralization is when new blood vessels are formed to go around a narrowed or blocked vessel to help supply blood to the muscle being used. Exercise plans can be as simple as sustained walking, leg cycling, or swimming starting at 5-10 minutes per day and slowly progressing to a goal of 30 minutes.
Medication Management: Two of the major risk factors for PAD are elevated cholesterol/fat levels and high blood pressure. Statins have been shown to manage cholesterol/fat levels, stabilize plaque, and reduce the risk of additional plaque buildup. Blood pressure control, and being on the proper blood pressure medication, is also imperative for patients with PAD. Our physicians will work with you and review your medication list to ensure you are on the proper medication regimen to lessen your risk of PAD development.