How can I reduce my risk for peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?

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If you are at risk for peripheral vascular disorders (PVDs), there are several things you can do that may help prevent them. Ask healthcare providers for more information on living a "heart-healthy" lifestyle. This means:

  • Do not smoke. Stopping smoking may decrease signs and symptoms of PVDs or stop them from getting worse.
  • Eat nutritious, low-fat foods including fish, fruit and vegetables. Increase the amount of fiber that you eat. Fiber can be found in many cereals, whole-grain breads and beans. Include a variety of foods in your diet.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol that you drink to no more than two drinks daily.
  • Exercise regularly. This means at least 30 minutes of exercise, three days every week.
  • If you need to lose weight, write down the amounts and what you eat and drink every day. This will help you see eating patterns and plan where to make changes to help you lose weight.
  • Control high blood pressure. Learn to relax by deep breathing, meditating or doing other activities when you are under stress.
  • If you have diabetes, try to keep your blood sugar at a steady level. Check your blood sugar often. Ask healthcare providers if you should make changes to your diet, exercise or medications.

 

Some risk factors for PVD can’t be changed, such as your family history or your age. But you can control or eliminate other risk factors. Taking action can help prevent vascular disease or keep it from getting worse.

  • If you smoke, quit. This is the single biggest difference you can make in your health.
  • If you’re carrying extra weight, lose it -- slowly and safely. 
  • Step up your physical activity. Physical activity will help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels, lower your blood pressure, and strengthen your heart.
  • Control your blood pressure to protect your vessels from further damage. Medication, exercise, and weight loss can help.
  • If you have diabetes, manage it by keeping your blood sugar between 90 and 130. Your doctor can help if you’ve been struggling with this.
  • Control your cholesterol. Your total cholesterol should be under 200 and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol should be under 100. This can be done with medications and a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
  • Eat a diet low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and salt and high in fresh fruits, fiber, and vegetables. For guidelines, visit the American Heart Association website.
  • Follow your doctor’s directions about medication and supplements. If your doctor prescribes medication, take it regularly as prescribed even if you start feeling better. Also, check with your doctor before you take other supplements or herbal remedies.

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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.