10 FACTS About Peripheral Arterial Disease – Part 2
This September, join Maryland Vascular Specialists in recognizing National Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Awareness Month by helping the public better understand the risks and treatment options for PAD and supporting the PAD patient community. By saving limbs through increased awareness and access to care, we can also save countless lives.
Below is the second instalment of our 10 Facts About Peripheral Arterial Disease blog series which covers #6 through #10.
10 FACTS About PAD: #6 – #10
6. Smoking increases the risk of developing PAD by 4 times
You may know that smoking is a major cause of heart disease, cancer, and lung disease; however, smoking is also the number one cause of PAD. The Vascular Disease Foundation has studies that show smoking even half a pack of cigarettes per day may increase the risk of having PAD by 30 to 50%.
With every puff, smoking harms your blood vessels. It speeds up the buildup of plaque in the artery walls and increases the formation of leg artery blockages. As a result, smoking increases the severity of PAD, increases the progression of the disease-causing it to get worse faster, increases the risk for amputation and death, and the chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Fifty percent (50%) of people with PAD who continue to smoke will have a life-threatening heart attack or stroke within 5 years. Thus, it is important that patients who smoke and have PAD quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke, as this will help to reduce your risk for PAD complications. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.
7. Having heart disease (CAD) means a 30% chance of also having PAD
If you have heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease, CAD), you have a one in three chance of also having peripheral arterial disease. Per the clinical article, Treatment Approach to Patients with Combined Peripheral and Coronary Artery Disease, studies have consistently shown that patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) have more severe CAD, often with severe and multi-vessel involvement than CAD patients without PAD.
Additional studies have shown that approximately 55% of patients with severe lower-extremity PAD requiring surgery have significant CAD (at least one coronary artery with significant narrowing).
8. African-Americans have a higher risk for PAD
African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have PAD as Caucasians. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, PAD is more common in African-Americans than any other racial or ethnic group. The elevated risk in African-Americans may be in part due to some of the conditions that raise the risk for developing PAD, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which are more common among African-Americans.
9. PAD is attributed to 150,000 amputations every year in the U.S.
When a person has advanced PAD or CLI (Critical Limb Ischemia), it means that the blockage in one of your blood vessels is preventing blood from reaching a part of your body such as your foot or toe. Development of foot ulcers (sores on your feet that won’t heal on their own) and gangrene (dead tissue) are indicators of advanced PAD that has gone untreated. These wounds can lead to further infection and disease, and possible amputation, if adequate blood flow is not restored. There are various treatments for PAD so it’s very important for you to not ignore the pain or the symptoms. Request a consultation with a Maryland Vascular Specialists BEFORE it’s too late.
10. Sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk for PAD
Lack of physical activity has been known to be a risk factor for PAD. If you are not moving your legs, then your circulatory system is not pumping blood from your heart to your legs and back to your heart. A study of 3 million self-referred adults, on the association between physical activity and PAD, demonstrated a significant association between increased physical activity and a lower prevalence of PAD. A separate presentation on PAD at the 2016 National Cardiovascular Horizons conference revealed that physical activity reduces the odds of PAD by 36% (after adjusting for age, sex, race, and other risk factors). So the key is to keep your body moving to reduce your risk for PAD, and even to keep moving after you are diagnosed with PAD.
PAD is Treatable
The good news is that peripheral arterial disease is treatable. There are several treatment options available including a recommendation of lifestyle changes and minimally invasive endovascular procedures.
If you missed the first instalment of our 10 FACTS About Peripheral Arterial Disease which covers #1 – #5, then click HERE to learn more about PAD.
DON’T IGNORE THE SYMPTOMS OF PAD – SCHEDULE AN EXPERT CONSULTATION
If you feel fatigue, leg pain, or cramping in your leg that is brought on by walking but relieved when you rest; experience leg pain while resting; or have wounds on your foot that are slow to heal, do not ignore them as they are common symptoms of PAD. Be sure to contact a vascular specialist (or your primary care physician for a referral) as soon as possible. Click here to schedule an expert consultation at Maryland Vascular Specialists – we have several convenient locations to serve you in Maryland and Pennsylvania.