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High-Risk Populations for Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease causes risk factors within underserved populations to skyrocket. We'll take a closer look at peripheral artery disease high-risk populations.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, peripheral artery disease affects more than six million people in the United States. While often undiagnosed and unmanaged, the condition is a major health concern. The risk factors of peripheral arterial disease include the following potentially dangerous medical complications

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Leg ulcers
  • Tissue damage
  • Kidney disease

Below we cover several risk factors for peripheral artery disease. Here is what you need to know about populations at the highest risk for peripheral artery disease.

Is Peripheral Artery Disease Genetic?

Peripheral artery disease can potentially have a genetic component. Research has shown that individuals with a family history of peripheral artery disease are more likely to develop the condition. In fact, having a first-degree relation, like a parent or sibling, with the disease can raise a person's risk by up to six times.

A family history of peripheral artery disease might be among the major factors that facilitate the progression of the condition, but recognizing additional issues is essential for preventing and managing the disease.

Connection Between PAD and Cholesterol

Elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—the cholesterol that collects as arterial plaque—can impede blood flow and exacerbate the risk of developing peripheral artery disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) considers individuals with high levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as "bad" cholesterol, to be at a higher risk.

Connection Between PAD and Hypertension

A primary risk factor for peripheral artery disease is hypertension.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a disorder marked by elevated levels of pressure against the artery walls. Over time, this increased pressure can damage the arteries and contribute to the development of the condition. Individuals with uncontrolled or poorly managed hypertension have a higher risk.

Connection Between PAD and Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that impedes the body's ability to control glucose levels. People with diabetes are more vulnerable because their blood vessels are more likely to have been damaged by the inflammatory response caused by high blood sugar levels. It is estimated that approximately one in three people with diabetes over age 50 has peripheral artery disease.

Connection Between PAD and Smoking

The biggest risk factor for peripheral artery disease is smoking. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the blood vessels, encouraging plaque formation and artery constriction. Smokers have a substantially higher risk of developing peripheral artery disease than non-smokers.

Connection Between PAD and Obesity

Obesity, a condition marked by excess body fat, contributes to the risk of incurring several health disorders, including peripheral artery disease. Excess body fat strains blood vessels, making them prone to weakening.

Insufficient physical exercise can also contribute to the development of peripheral artery disease. Regular exercise helps improve blood flow and keeps the blood vessels healthy. People who lead sedentary lives are at increased risk compared to those who engage in regular physical activity.

Connection Between PAD and Age

Advancing age is a major risk factor for PAD. As people age, their blood vessels naturally become less flexible and more prone to plaque buildup. The NIH suggests that individuals who are 65 or older have a greater risk of developing peripheral artery disease.

Connection Between PAD and Race

Certain populations are particularly vulnerable to peripheral arterial disease risk factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people of African descent may have an elevated risk of peripheral artery disease. 

A variety of lifestyle and societal factors might contribute to the increased risk among individuals of African descent. One key factor is the higher prevalence of debilitating medical disorders such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking compared to other populations. These risk factors are known to contribute to the development and progression of the disease.

Georgia Endovascular: Trusted Vascular Specialist in North Atlanta

Several risk factors for peripheral artery disease can make seeking treatment challenging. Lack of access to specialists is among the most difficult obstacles to overcome for many within the highest-risk populations. At Georgia Endovascular, we strive to make high-quality care accessible to our diverse patient population.

Proactive care and management can minimize the main risk factors for peripheral arterial disease. If you have concerns about your vascular health, please don't hesitate to contact the helpful representatives at Georgia Endovascular today at 678-915-2000.

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