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How can peripheral artery disease (PAD) be prevented?

Ways to prevent peripheral artery disease include stop smoking, control diabetes and hypertension, and improve diet and exercise.

PAD, like most vascular diseases, is greatly related to lifestyle choices. Keeping your weight at a healthy level, exercising regularly and not smoking are three key things you can do to keep from developing PAD. Genetics also plays a role, so if you have a family history of PAD, heart attack, diabetes or stroke, make sure to get tested for PAD. PAD testing is quick and easy. The test is called an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) and only takes a few minutes. 

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 this disease, be sure to tell your doctor.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking is more closely related to getting P.A.D. than any other risk factor. Your risk for P.A.D. increases four times if you smoke or have a history of smoking. Talk to your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan that's low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium (salt). Eat more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. If you're overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are two examples of healthy eating plans.

Get regular physical activity. Physical activity can improve your fitness level and your health. Talk to your doctor about what types of activity are safe for you. See the NHLBI's "Your Guide to Physical Activity and Your Heart." Although this guide focuses on heart health, it also applies to general health and well-being

This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

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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.