PAD risk factors you can control
Certain risk factors for PAD can't be controlled. These uncontrollable risk factors include aging, personal or family history of PAD, cardiovascular disease or stroke. However, you can control the following risk factors:
- Cigarette smoking - You can stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for PAD. Smokers may have four times the risk of PAD than nonsmokers. Our guide to quitting smoking can help you.
- Diabetes mellitus - You can manage diabetes and blood sugar levels. Having diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing PAD as well as other cardiovascular diseases. Learn more about the risks and how to manage diabetes.
- High blood pressure - You can manage your blood pressure. It's sometimes called "the silent killer" because it has no symptoms. Work with your healthcare professionals to monitor and control your blood pressure.
- Obesity - You can reduce your weight. People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or higher are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Calculate your BMI and learn healthy ways to manage your weight.
- Physical inactivity - You can get moving. Physical activity increases the distance that people with PAD can walk without pain and also helps decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke. Supervised exercise programs are one of the treatments for PAD patients.
- High blood cholesterol - You can manage your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which can significantly reduce the blood's flow. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. Managing your cholesterol levels is essential to prevent or treat PAD.
You can choose more than one target to improve! Taking care of only one risk factor is not as effective as taking care of all those that you can control. Learn the facts. Develop a heart-healthy lifestyle and cooperate with your healthcare professionals. Your heart will thank you by functioning better and lasting longer.
This content was last reviewed October 2016.