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How can quitting smoking help my legs?

SCAI
SCAI
answer
Smoking is the number one risk factor associated with peripheral artery disease (PAD). Smoking is bad for the blood vessels in your legs because it speeds up the build-up of fatty plaque inside your arteries; causes blood vessels to constrict, or tighten; and contributes to blood clots.

All these smoking-related changes in the blood vessels reduce blood flow to your legs and feet, which in turn causes pain when you walk because your muscles are being deprived of oxygen.

Several studies have found that smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day may increase the risk of PAD by 30 to 50 percent. In general, smoking seems to make PAD get worse faster. If you smoke and have PAD, you may experience the negative effects of PAD sooner than people who have PAD but do not smoke. You may not be able to walk as far before the pain makes you stop, you might develop sores on your feet that will not heal, gangrene could set in, and you might need to have toes, a foot, or even your lower leg amputated.

Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve the outcome of your PAD. Why? Because statistics show that as many as half of those who have PAD and continue to smoke will have a heart attack or stroke, or will die, within five years.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.