Taking action to control your risk factors can help prevent or delay peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.) and its complications.
Know your family history of health problems related to P.A.D. If you or someone in your family has the disease, be sure to tell your doctor.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the main risk factor for P.A.D. Your risk of P.A.D. increases four times if you smoke or have a history of smoking. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.
Follow a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A healthy diet also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. A healthy diet is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugar.
If you're overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan. Also, try to be physically active. Physical activity can improve your fitness level and your health. Talk with your doctor about the types of activity that are safe for you.
The Health Topics Physical Activity and Your Heart article and the NHLBI's "Your Guide to Physical Activity and Your Heart" include information about physical activity. Although these resources focus on heart health, they also apply to general health and well-being.
The lifestyle changes described above can reduce your risk of P.A.D. These changes also can help prevent and control conditions that can lead to P.A.D., such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.