While aches and pains typically accompany the aging process, some pain can be avoided or reduced with diagnosis and treatment. You may feel one leg or foot is continually colder than the other. Cuts and sores on your lower extremities could take longer to heal. You may experience cramping in your hips, calves, and thighs or weakness in your legs when walking and climbing. Any of these symptoms could be due to vascular problems in your legs.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a possible culprit, but it’s also possible that PAD can develop with no symptoms at all. Typically caused by the accumulation of fatty deposits along artery walls, this narrowing of blood vessels can cause life-threatening complications if it remains untreated.
Genetic factors can contribute
There are some risk factors for PAD that you simply can’t control. If anyone in your family has a history of the disease, or of cardiovascular disease and stroke, you may have an increased statistical risk of developing the condition due to that genetic relationship. If you have PAD history in your family, then it’s prudent to make sure you manage the risk factors that you can control.
Things you can do to prevent PAD
Your risk of developing PAD is four times higher if you smoke. It’s no secret that atherosclerosis and other circulatory system problems stem from the consumption of tobacco, and PAD is also a vascular condition. As with other complications of smoking, you can recover much of your health when you stop using tobacco.
High levels of glucose in your bloodstream, characteristic of uncontrolled diabetes, leads to damage to nerves and blood vessels in your legs, a combination that can eventually result in problems, such as amputation of your feet and legs. Follow your doctor’s instructions to keep blood sugar low, reducing the risk of this damage. Altering your lifestyle to improve diet and increase activity can help your body cope with both diabetes and PAD.
The connection between high LDL and atherosclerosis is well known, and since most cases of PAD are caused by similar conditions, controlling cholesterol levels, whether through diet, medication, or a combination of both, is central to reducing your risk of developing PAD.
Carrying extra weight is a risk factor for many of the conditions that can reduce your overall health as you get older. Maintaining a body mass index under 25 helps to lower the risk of not only PAD, but diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke as well. Once again, diet and exercise are your best weapons to maintain prolonged good health.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition with few symptoms until its late stages. Both a contributor to and symptom of PAD, it’s another condition that responds to diet and exercise, so lifestyle changes can, again, improve more than one medical condition.
If you’re one of over eight million Americans with PAD, or if you have one or more contributing risk factors, it’s time to see the vascular specialists at Total Vascular Care in Brooklyn New York. Call the office or request an appointment using the online booking tool. It’s never too early to get the jump on PAD.