Leg pain may seem to be a natural consequence of aging. Perhaps you’ve experienced cramping in the muscles of your hips, thighs or calves, on one side or both, after climbing stairs or walking. Maybe you’ve noted weakness in your legs, or one foot that continually feels colder than the other. Sores on your legs and feet may take a long time to heal.
Each of these symptoms could indicate that you’ve developed peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a narrowing of blood vessels supplying the legs. This could indicate the presence of atherosclerosis, the accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries throughout your body.
However, it’s possible to develop PAD with few or no symptoms until later stages of progression. Like high blood pressure, the condition can exist without you being aware, so knowing the risk factors associated with PAD can help you take precautions against the disease. Like many later-in-life conditions, PAD can be treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity.
Uncontrollable PAD Risk Factors
There are some risk factors for PAD that are beyond your control. If 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 the genetic relationship. If this is the case, then it’s prudent to make sure you manage the risk factors that you can control.
Controllable PAD Risk Factors
Your risk of developing PAD is four times higher if you smoke. Atherosclerosis and other circulatory system problems are aggravated by the consumption of tobacco, and PAD is also a vascular condition. As with other complications of smoking, you can restore much of your health after kicking the habit.
When blood sugar levels are unmanaged, diabetes can lead to damage to nerves and blood vessels in your legs, a combination that can eventually produce such serious problems as amputation of your feet and legs later in in life. Following your doctor’s instructions for controlling blood sugar lowers this risk and, of course, diet and exercise improvements help your body cope with both diabetes and PAD.
The connection between high LDL and atherosclerosis is well documented, 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, medically known as hypertension, is a condition with few symptoms until its late stages. It’s another condition that responds to diet and exercise and frequently accompanies other PAD risk factors.
Managing PAD once it develops requires a medical team that includes your primary care physician as well as specialists, including the team at Premier Vein Clinic. Call or click today to arrange a consultation to discuss your PAD concerns.