Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a simple-to-understand condition. PAD results from narrow arteries (most often caused by plaque buildup) limiting blood flow to the feet, legs and hands. This often causes slow healing wounds, numbness, cold extremities and weakness when climbing stairs. In the absolute worst of cases, PAD can result in amputation.
Thankfully, at Lam Vascular & Associates, we’re absolute experts in amputation prevention. Dr. Russell Lam could fill a casebook with the number of times he has seen patients looking for a second opinion after a doctor told them that amputation was their only option. Surgical interventions are constantly improving, and Dr. Lam is always on the front end of the curve.
So the question is, what can you do to help manage PAD or stop its progression before surgery is needed?
Regular Physical Activity
When treating PAD, one of the main goals is to increase the distance a patient can walk without pain. While treatment of the plaque buildup is important to achieve this goal, proper exercise helps condition muscles to use oxygen more efficiently.
Not only does regular exercise make muscles more comfortable with less oxygen, but proper amounts of exercise can actually help to reverse plaque buildup. We can work with you to build a training regimen. Most programs are built around simple walking exercises with rest periods to help increase the amount of time you’re comfortable walking.
While partnering with a rehabilitation center is ideal, Dr. Lam can work with you to create a home exercise plan built around your situation.
The vast majority of PAD cases are caused by plaque build-up resulting from high levels of cholesterol. Moving to a diet low in saturated and trans-fats can help lower blood cholesterol. Many people worry when they hear the word diet, but the truth is some simple changes can go a long way.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, less red meat, avoiding fried foods and switching to low-fat alternatives for things like dairy products is often all it takes to lower cholesterol levels.
That said, even with dietary changes, some people will still require medication to help treat their cholesterol levels. An expert in PAD, like Dr. Lam, will work to guide you through your next steps for treating high cholesterol.
Diabetes introduces its own risk factors for foot pain and surgery needs. Symptoms of PAD and diabetes often overlap and compound on one another to put your feet in even more danger. This is why it is critical to effectively manage your diabetes when you are at risk for PAD.
Luckily, many of the lifestyle changes for PAD and Diabetes overlap as well. Dietary changes, more exercise, no longer smoking and regularly checking for foot wounds are all choices that will benefit both conditions.
Taking diabetes treatment seriously is critical to effectively prevent and treat PAD. Working with a doctor who specializes in diabetes is important for your overall health and should be the first step when you notice foot discomfort.
We’re a medical practice, so it should be no surprise that we suggest that you quit smoking. But those at risk for PAD have even more reason to quit than the average smoker. Smoking damages heart tissue, lowers beneficial cholesterols and raises blood pressure, all of which increase your risk of developing PAD.
There are many resources available to help you on your journey to quit smoking. One great place to start is the AHA’s guide to quitting tobacco.
Bonus Tip: Take Care of Those Toes
If you develop or already have PAD, you should continue doing all of the preventative measures above, but you’ll also need to introduce some extra steps to your self-care routine. The most important step to add to your routine is keeping an eye on the health of your feet. Extra foot care is critical for those with PAD because PAD causes numbness and limited blood flow slows the healing process. Some of our tips for foot care include:
- Wear well-fitting shoes and thick, dry socks
- Promptly treat any fungal infections of the feet, such as athlete’s foot
- Take care when trimming your nails
- Inspect your feet daily for injuries
Your Next Step
If you suspect you have PAD, these tips are a solid start, but we always suggest seeking treatment with an expert. Dr. Lam is highly praised within the medical community because of his ability to find solutions that work with the lifestyle of his patients.
Schedule an initial appointment today if you need help better managing your PAD (or are experiencing any symptoms of PAD). Lam Vascular & Associates has convenient locations in Dallas and Rockwall, Texas.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.