Dr. Lam recommends a walking program for many of these patients. This may seem counter-intuitive to those suffering from PAD, since physical exertion tends to make the symptoms of the condition worse. However, studies have shown exercise, especially walking, can improve circulation and decrease leg pain.
Peripheral Artery Disease is a common condition where plaque clogs the arteries making it difficult for blood to circulate through the body. This condition primarily affects the arteries in the legs and feet. Patients with PAD often notice pain and cramping in their legs during physical activity because the muscles don’t get enough blood and oxygen.
Walking regularly can help improve circulation as the body forms new blood vessels to bypass blockages. Dr. Lam recommends the following walking guidelines for PAD patients, who are healthy enough for such a program:
- Stretch your calf and thigh muscles before beginning your walk
- Try to walk for at least five minutes
- After five minutes of mild to moderate pain, stop and rest until the pain subsides
- Slowly work toward 50-60 minutes of total walking (not counting rest), three to five times a week
- Include a five minute cool down period at the end of your walk
- If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath and/or dizziness, stop exercising and call your doctor
Patients typically report improvement of symptoms after a month, with maximum improvement after three to six months. In some cases, implementing an exercise program, along with other lifestyle changes, may be enough to avoid or delay the need for surgical interventions by a vascular surgeon to treat PAD.
If you have PAD, Dallas vascular surgeon Dr. Lam can work with you to develop a personalized walking program. Schedule a consultation by calling 214.345.4160 or click here to request an appointment online.
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.