How to Slow the Progression of PAD Symptoms
Living with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can be challenging, as this condition develops when plaque, made up of fats and other substances in your bloodstream build up in your arteries, making it harder for your arms, legs, head, and organs to get enough blood.1 If blood can’t get to these areas, tissue damage and eventually tissue death can occur. Left untreated, there is a chance of stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, amputation, and can be life-threatening.
Many people ask our doctors how they can reverse PAD naturally. There isn’t a cure, but you can manage, and possibly even reverse, the symptoms. It is preferred to manage PAD with lifestyle modifications, but there are also minimally-invasive endovascular procedures available if it cannot be managed by those changes.
What Lifestyle Changes Can You Make to Treat PAD?
There is no cure for PAD, but you can manage your PAD symptoms and stop the progression of the disease through the following lifestyle changes:
A key component to PAD symptom reversal is exercise. Studies show that patients who engage in regular physical activity may lead to fewer and less severe symptoms.1 The distance a patient can walk without pain is often the indicator of a successful PAD treatment. Routine workouts can also aid in improving your mood, self-esteem, energy, and sleep. Exercise can also reduce your risk of other cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, or heart attack.
Don’t know where to start? Well, walking is an excellent option. Your doctor might recommend supervised exercise therapy or a walking program to help manage your PAD. Regardless of the exercise regimen chosen, consistency is the key. The goal is to get some kind of activity as often as you can.
Note: Before making any lifestyle changes to help with your symptoms it is important to discuss with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) or Vascular Specialist.
Tobacco use and smoking constricts and damage your arteries and is a significant risk factor for PAD. Smoking cessation reduces the risk of your symptoms developing further and lowers your odds of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).
Studies show that people who keep smoking after their diagnosis have a higher risk of death from complications of heart disease than those who quit after their diagnosis.2
If you’re having trouble quitting on your own, ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs that might include the following, behavior modification programs, nicotine replacement therapy, and stop-smoking support group.
Healthy Diet & Weight
In living with PAD, a heart-healthy diet can help you control your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes, which may lower your risk Many people with PAD also have underlying health issues that benefit from healthy ways of eating. In general, it is important to eat a diet low in sugar and avoid processed food, focusing on meals that highlight vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Include low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, and non-tropical vegetable oils like olive oil. Reduce salt, added sugars, and red meat. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid Certain Over-the-Counter Medications
Some over-the-counter cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine including Advil Cold & Sinus, Aleve-D Sinus & Cold, and others, constrict your blood vessels and could make symptoms worse.1
Stop or Reduce Alcohol Intake
Long-term, heavy drinking can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy3, a condition where consuming too much alcohol damages your heart. Ultimately, it can cause your heart to enlarge irreversibly. This weakens the heart muscle, keeping it from pumping as well as it should, which may increase your risk of worsening your PAD symptoms. Limiting alcohol intake may be able to keep it from getting worse.
Take Care of Your Feet
Careful foot care is especially important for people with PAD as they may also have diabetes, wounds, and/or injuries on the lower legs and feet that don’t heal. If wounds are not healing properly, it is due to poor blood flow, which puts you at a higher risk for infection. Taking care of your feet in the following manner will also improve your
Quick tips for Foot Care:
- Wash feet daily and dry thoroughly.
- Moisturize feet often.
- Wear thick, dry socks.
- Make sure shoes fit properly.
- Treat any fungal infections immediately.
- Be careful while cutting nails.
- Look over your feet every day to see if you have any injuries.
- Have a foot doctor treat bunions, corns, or calluses.
- If you have a foot injury, see your doctor right away.
When you have PAD, your doctor will want to control your symptoms and stop further buildup of plaque in your arteries. Sometimes, lifestyle changes are enough to meet these goals. If not, your doctor might suggest medication or a procedure.
To learn more about the non-invasive vascular solutions that Modern Vascular offers or to find answers to your PAD-related problems, you can call (888) 853-1278 or use the online form at ModernVascular.com to request a consultation with a Modern Vascular Patient Advocate.
- Benisek, A. (n.d.). Can I reverse peripheral artery disease (pad)? WebMD. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/reverse-peripheral-artery-disease.
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, January 14). Peripheral artery disease (PAD). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-artery-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350563.
- Alcoholic cardiomyopathy: Causes, symptoms and treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21994-alcoholic-cardiomyopathy.
- WebMD. (n.d.). Tips for living with peripheral artery disease of the legs (PAD). WebMD. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/tips-living-with-peripheral-artery-disease.