Around 6.5 million people aged 40 and over have peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in the US. This common circulatory problem refers to narrowed arteries that reduce blood flow to your limbs, especially your legs.
Many people with PAD have no symptoms. For others, one of the most common peripheral artery disease symptoms is leg pain (claudication) when walking. Other signs include muscle weakness, open sores on the legs, and erectile dysfunction in men.
But what causes peripheral artery disease? Keep reading this health guide to better understand some of the risk factors involved.
Smoking is the most significant risk factor that can increase your chances of developing PAD and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Not everyone who develops artery disease smokes or has smoked in the past. However, ex-smokers are more than twice as likely to develop PAD than non-smokers, while current smokers are more than three times as likely.
Peripheral artery disease is also more common in those with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. This is because the disease causes the lining around the cells in your blood vessels to become less flexible. As a result, blood does not flow as smoothly as it should, thereby increasing your risk of developing PAD.
3. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure promotes the formation of plaque. Plaque is a waxy material formed from cholesterol and other particles that can build up (atherosclerosis) in your artery walls. When your arteries become blocked with plaque, they narrow and restrict blood flow, leading to peripheral arterial disease.
4. High Cholesterol
Since plaque is made of cholesterol, having high cholesterol is also a risk factor for developing PAD. Too much cholesterol causes your arteries to narrow, slow and block blood flow. When this blockage happens in your legs, it can lead to very serious peripheral artery disease.
The impact that obesity can have on your body is complex and can converge with many other risk factors and comorbidities. For example, obese individuals are more likely to present higher levels of inflammation. They also tend to have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other PAD risk factors.
Although obesity is not a direct cause of peripheral arterial disease nevertheless, studies have shown that carrying extra weight – especially around your waist – makes your risk of developing PAD much higher. It should be noted that the link between obesity and PAD is especially significant in female patients.
Your Quick Health Guide to Peripheral Arterial Disease
As this health guide shows, there are several fundamental causes of peripheral arterial disease.
Investigating PAD treatment options should be a priority following a diagnosis. But, making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and increasing your activity levels can help lessen PAD symptoms and may even cut your risk of developing PAD in the first place.
Are you looking for more information on peripheral arterial disease or other vascular issues? Feel free to contact us with any questions or to request an appointment.