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Understanding Peripheral Arterial Disease Risk Factors

Posted on April 01, 2024

One in five people over 65 suffers from PAD, making age one of the biggest peripheral artery disease risk factors for the 236 million individuals currently suffering from this condition. But what other factors impact your risk? And what's the exact nature of this disease? Let's find out, together!

image of blood flow under a microscope to determine peripheral arterial disease risk factors

Understanding Peripheral Arterial Disease

PAD develops after plaque (a substance in the blood composed mostly of fat and cholesterol) builds in your arteries. Next, it sticks to their walls, causing atherosclerosis, or hardening, that reduces blood flow in your body.

Typically, blood flow to your legs is one of the first victims of plaque build up. When that's the case, you'll be diagnosed with PAD. You may notice symptoms such as leg pain, numbness, hair loss on your legs, and changes to the color or texture of the skin there. Additionally, cuts or wounds may not heal well, leading to ulcers.

But PAD symptoms aren’t just experienced in your legs. When you have PAD, your risk of heart attack, blood clots and stroke also increases. So does your chances of losing a limb to amputation.

Why Does PAD Develop?

While the exact cause of this condition isn’t known, it seems to begin when the inner layers of your arteries get damaged: this damage could be the result of a diet that’s high in fat and cholesterol; physical inactivity; a lifestyle that includes smoking; diabetes (especially type 2 diabetes, according to this study); high cholesterol; and/or high blood pressure. It seems that plaque builds up as your arteries begin to heal.

Now, anyone can develop this condition. But it appears that being a woman adds an additional peripheral arterial disease risk factor (though we don't know why.) Plus, the disease is difficult to diagnose, since many people don't develop symptoms, or confuse PAD symptoms for those of other conditions. For these reasons, knowing your risk for the disease can help you get a timely diagnosis and treatment!

Identifying Peripheral Artery Disease Risk Factors

According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health migraines increase your PAD risk, possibly because both migraine sufferers and people with PAD patients experience vascular abnormalities. Additionally, smoking, or suffering from diabetes and/or hypertension can increase your PAD risk, as can chronic kidney disease and asthma.

Another risk factor to consider? Having an elevated Body Mass index (BMI.) In fact, according to the International Journal of General Medicine, getting your BMI below 25 can decrease your risk for PAD by 27%. (Check your BMI here, to see if you're in the PAD risk zone!)

Finally, the Cardiovascular Research journal identified a link between PAD risk and psoriasis. This revealed that having poorly controlled psoriasis can increase your disease risk for disease because the inflammation harming your skin could also take a toll on artery and heart health. So, by controlling any underlying conditions you may already have, you could reduce your risk for Peripheral Arterial Disease.

PAD Treatment Options

Initially, you may manage your disease by making careful lifestyle changes. But, in our Georgia clinics, we can help manage disease with minimally invasive procedures such as Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy. Luckily, each treatment option can help you avoid major surgery, overnight hospital stays, and lengthy recovery periods.

Ready to understand your PAD risk, or explore treatment options? We're ready to help! Click here to request an appointment[/ga-app-link] with our Georgia PAD specialists.

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