Peripheral artery disease occurs when fatty deposits accumulate in your arteries, reducing blood flow to your arms or legs. Consequently, your arms or legs – usually the legs, don’t receive enough blood flow, resulting in pain when walking, numbness, and other symptoms. Although this condition is serious and painful, you can still have a fully active lifestyle with peripheral artery disease. If you have PAD, your Hudson, FL cardiologist may recommend lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms and lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease.
Regular exercise reduces the severity and frequency of peripheral artery disease (PAD) and lowers your risk of developing another cardiovascular disease. Your doctor is in the best position to recommend activities or exercise plans that have been shown to curb PAD symptoms. Choosing exercises you enjoy is best because it is easier to stick with them; for example, you can ride a bike, swim, or join a fitness class. Exercise does not have to be boring; you can ask a friend or two to join you; it is more fun, and you can keep each other on track. If you can, hire a personal trainer to help you stay focused on your goals.
While exercise is important, you may want to reduce activity due to pain when walking (claudication). There are ways to do your workouts while controlling the pain. First, you want to listen to your body and pause if you are in pain; wait for the pain to subside and continue. Taking a pause and resuming exercise helps build up your body. It is also best to start slowly as you increase the distance you can walk.
Smoking worsens peripheral artery disease symptoms, making it harder for blood vessels to carry blood. When you stop, you take an important step in preventing disease progression and reducing the risk of other serious cardiovascular diseases. People who smoke after being diagnosed with PAD are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people who quit smoking.
Eat healthy foods
Eating a balanced diet is an important part of managing peripheral artery disease. Healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, beans, and plant oils control your weight and cholesterol level. You want to reduce salt, alcohol, processed sugars, and saturated fats common in animal products like sausages and bacon. You may groan and think about your favorite foods that you have to give up. However, you will still have a lot of tasty foods on your list; this may be a chance to join a cooking class and learn new recipes. A dietitian can teach you ways to make healthy foods taste better.
Take prescribed medications
Although lifestyle changes can help manage PAD symptoms, sometimes medication is necessary. For example, your doctor may prescribe aspirin or clopidogrel to reduce your heart attack or stroke risk. You may also need drugs to prevent blood clots, improve blood flow to your feet, reduce blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.
Talk to your healthcare provider at Advanced Heart & Vascular Associates to learn more about managing peripheral artery disease.