There are two really important things that you can do to manage your peripheral artery disease. Dr. Kent Hootman, the managing physician of Modern Vascular of Albuquerque, New Mexico, shares what those things are.
What You Can Do To Manage PAD
The first is really difficult. If you are a smoker with PAD, it is very important to do what you can to quit smoking. It will not just improve your PAD, it will also be beneficial to your overall health.
The second is to develop a walking or exercise routine. If you have trouble walking you can try other exercises that work out your legs and feet like cycling, swimming, or using an elliptical. Find a way to make it enjoyable so that it encourages you to keep it up.
Other Things You Can Do to Manage PAD
There are many other benefits to creating a walking routine. Your heart health will improve because you increase your heart rate, which increases the circulation to your heart. You increase the circulation to your brain and you also exercise your lungs as well. Studies show that regular walking improves longevity and improves your overall health.
As you are walking, you are exercising your thighs, calves, and buttocks. These are large muscle groups that have a very high oxygen demand. When you are walking, the oxygen demand of those muscles goes up. There are chemical messages that are sent to the blood vessels to tell the smooth muscle in the lining of the arterial wall to relax, open up, and allow more blood flow. That improves blood flow to everything below the waist when walking and encourages new connections to very small micro-vessels. Finding a way to maintain a regular walking practice, your body can develop collaterals or small connections between little branches in the muscles and the tissue.
The Team at Modern Vascular of Albuquerque, New Mexico Can Help You Determine the Best Strategy for Managing Your PAD
Your doctor can help you develop a structured walking program either through a physical therapy program or by walking on a treadmill or around your neighborhood. Make sure to speak with our doctor before starting an exercise program.
An example of a structured walking program:
- Warm up with light stretching of your calf and thigh muscles.
- Walk at a pace fast enough that you may have slight discomfort (~5 minutes, if possible).
- After 5 minutes, pause and rest until that discomfort or pain subsides.
- Repeat this routine several times slowly building up your walking time to 30 minutes (minus rest breaks) 3 to 5 times a week.
- Once you hit your goal, keep adding a minute until you reach a total of 50 minutes 3 to 5 times a week.
- Always remember to cool down by slowly walking for 5 minutes followed by light stretching of your calf and thigh muscles.