Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), is a common vascular problem affecting 6.5 million American adults over age 40. It occurs when the blood vessels in your extremities, such as the legs, become narrowed or blocked due to plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis. This can lead to reduced blood flow, which may cause pain, cramping, and impaired mobility.
Board-certified physician William H. Julien, MD, provides expert interventional vascular radiology diagnosis and treatments to help relieve symptoms of PAD at South Florida Vascular Associates in Boynton Beach, Plantation, and Coconut Creek, Florida. He’s experienced with minimally invasive revascularization procedures to restore blood flow.
Lifestyle modifications are the first step in treating PAD. This month, Dr. Julien shares tips that can help you prevent and reduce symptoms of PAD.
Smoking is a significant risk factor for PAD, as well as heart disease and stroke. Smoking constricts blood vessels and accelerates atherosclerosis. Quitting smoking is one of the most effective ways to reduce PAD symptoms and improve your circulation and overall health.
Alter your diet
A heart-healthy diet that’s low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium can help reduce plaque buildup and improve blood flow. Focus on low-fat, high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to lower cholesterol levels. You can also include low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats such as olive oil.
Get regular exercise
A supervised or structured exercise program can improve circulation and help you improve blood flow to your leg muscles to improve functional status, boost your quality of life, and reduce pain and cramping. It’s best to start slow and consult with Dr. Julien for a safe and effective exercise plan.
Manage your weight
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight reduces the stress on your arteries and improves circulation. Following a heart-healthy diet and a regular exercise program can help you lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid certain cold and sinus medications
Over-the-counter cold medicine that contains pseudoephedrine can tighten blood vessels. This can reduce your blood flow as a result, which may increase PAD symptoms.
Take care of your feet
When you have reduced blood flow in your legs, cleaning and caring for your feet, especially if you have diabetes, can reduce your risk of infection and complications. In addition, you should trim your toenails regularly, wear properly fitted and comfortable shoes, and inspect your feet daily for injuries.
If you suspect you have PAD or you’ve been diagnosed, call South Florida Vascular Associates to make an appointment with Dr. Julien for a personalized treatment plan. You can also request an appointment online.