Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in the legs caused by narrowed arteries and cholesterol blockages. Circulation is significantly reduced in individuals with PAD, creating weakness and pain in the legs and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. A blood pressure cuff is placed on the legs to determine the body’s ability to circulate blood through the legs.
Main Causes of PAD
PAD creates deposits of fat on the walls of arteries. These deposits block the arteries and reduce blood flow primarily in the heart and throughout the body.
1. Blockages in the arteries bringing blood to the legs.
2. Blood vessel inflammation in the legs.
3. Injury to limbs.
4. Radiation exposure.
5. Unusual ligament or muscular anatomy.
6. Risk of PAD can increase due to diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity with a BMI over 30, high cholesterol, age over 50 and family history of heart disease, stroke and PAD.
Why Smoking Can Lead to Peripheral Artery Disease
Smoking causes a decrease in the flow of blood and triples the risk of developing PAD. Smoking is one of the most significant risks for artery disease. Cessation of tobacco use can decrease this risk and improve the functioning of patients who have PAD. Smoking can create complications for patients with PAD, such as limb ischemia that causes non-healing, open sores and infections in the legs. Critical limb ischemia is created when infections cause gangrene that may require amputation.
Best Treatment for Peripheral Artery Disease
PAD treatment may begin with the management of symptoms through lifestyle changes. The cessation of smoking and other risk factors can help to reduce and stop the progression of PAD and the risk of heart attack or stroke. Lifestyle changes should be made early for the best results. You may also be prescribed medication to prevent blood clots, to control pain and to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
1. Statin medication may be prescribed to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
2. High blood pressure medication.
3. Medication to reduce or control sugar for diabetes.
4. Medication to improve the blood flow in limbs and prevent clots.
A procedure known as angioplasty may be completed to open an affected artery. A stent may also be used to keep the artery open. These are the same procedures used to open arteries in the heart. Bypass surgery may be used to treat a blood vessel in the body or to bypass a blocked or narrowed artery. Thrombolytic therapy dissolves blood clots in an artery. A supervised exercise program may also be prescribed in addition to medication or treatment.
What is Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is the hardening or clogging of arteries with deposits of cholesterol, fat and inflammation called plaques. The plagues build throughout the body, in the heart and extremities, which is known as the peripheral arterial disease (PAD), peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and lower extremity vascular disease. The deposits or plaques progressively develop on the inner walls of the arteries and restrict the flow of blood to the heart. The smooth lining that is seen in healthy blood vessels prevents blood clots and blockages by promoting consistent blood flow.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and lower extremity vascular disease are seen when the disease is created in the arteries and the blood vessels that carry blood to the extremities, in the arms and legs. In PAD/PVD, arteries gradually become narrow or blocked as plaque is formed in the artery walls. Blood is unable to flow or nourish the tissue throughout the limbs and this causes the muscles to cramp and weaken.
Dietary Guidelines to Treat and Prevent Atherosclerosis
A healthy diet is essential for reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke and for treating peripheral arterial disease. A diet that is low in saturated fat can help to lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Fruits and vegetables are also an essential aspect of every healthy diet because they are high in vitamins and nutrients and low in fat.
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