Peripheral Arterial Disease

Risk Factors for Peripheral Arterial Disease

Although the most common cause of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is atherosclerosis other factors may contribute to development of the disease these include:

Smoking. Smoking is the main risk factor for PAD and your risk increases four fold if you smoke now OR smoked in the past. People who smoke and develop PAD generally exhibit symptoms 10 years earlier than people who don’t smoke and develop PAD.

People who smoke and people who have diabetes are at highest risk for PAD complications, such as gangrene and possible amputations in the leg from decreased blood flow.

Quitting smoking slows the progress of PAD. Smoking even one or two cigarettes a day can interfere with PAD treatments.

High Cholesterol or family history of high cholesterol. High cholesterol causes all kinds of problems for people with diabetes and represents the “C” in the diabetes ABC’s. You should know your cholesterol levels and undergo treatment if they rise to abnormal levels. More on cholesterol.

High blood pressure or family history of high blood pressure. About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has HBP. The condition usually has no symptoms so knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you’re feeling fine. If your blood pressure is normal, you can work to keep it that way. If your blood pressure is too high, treatment may help prevent damage to your body’s organs. More on Blood Pressure

High Glucose Levels. Undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes can result in high glucose levels which increases the risk for developing PAD.

Being African American. The disease is more common in African Americans than any other ethnic group.

Age. Plaque builds up in your arteries as you age. About 1 in every 20 Americans over the age of 50 has PAD. The risk continues to rise as you get older.

Many diseases and conditions can raise your risk of PAD, including:

  • Diabetes. About 1 in 3 people older than 50 who has diabetes also has PAD
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) or a family history of it.
  • Stroke or a family history of it.

Even if you don’t have signs or symptoms, ask your doctor whether you should get checked for PAD if you’re:

  • Aged 70 or older
  • Aged 50 or older and have a history of smoking or diabetes
  • Younger than 50 and have diabetes and one or more risk factors for atherosclerosis

Although PAD is serious, it’s treatable. If you have the disease, see your doctor regularly and treat the underlying atherosclerosis. PAD treatment may slow or stop disease progress and reduce the risk of complications. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery or procedures.

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