Treat Your Body Well—It Has to Last a Lifetime
You are the most important player in the treatment of PAD. The first and most successful line of treatment is under your control—smoking. Unlike alcohol, there is no safe level of cigarette smoke. It’s all bad. Quitting, on the other hand, is all good. It may take a while, but eventually your age-adjusted risk of having a heart attack and stroke will go down if you quit smoking. Even if it seems like your health problems are insurmountable, giving up smoking will help, so it’s well worth the effort.
Walking is another very effective way to treat your PAD. Start a walking program under your doctor’s supervision. In many cases, the best treatments for peripheral artery disease (PAD) are not medicines and medical procedures—it’s a prescription for exercise or cardiac rehab. Walking to the point of discomfort is the signal the body needs to start growing new blood vessels and an exercise physiologist can help you push yourself to the point that is most beneficial in treating your PAD.
Even if you don’t have PAD, lifestyle changes can also significantly reduce your risk of developing PAD in the first place and lower your risk for heart attack and stroke at the same time.
Take a look at the SecondsCount Take Control Planner to pick one or two ways you can work toward relieving your symptoms of PAD each week and improve the quality of your life in these key areas:
- Stop smoking! This is a big one for PAD. We know it’s difficult and that you’ve probably tried to quit before. Most smokers want to quit. It’s just really, really hard. Give it another try with the SecondsCount Smoke-Free Success Plan. This might be the time you can quit for good.
- Start walking. Walking reduces leg pain and cramps for many people with PAD. Studies have shown that a structured walking program can often work better than medicine or surgery in helping people with PAD walk longer and farther without having to stop because of pain. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t walk very far at first. Each day you will be able to go a little farther than the day before. Use the SecondsCount Walking Guide for PAD to set reasonable goals.
- Take care of your feet. It is very important, especially if you have PAD and diabetes that you take very good care of your feet. If you have PAD and get a sore on your feet, it may not heal easily. Use the SecondsCount Treat Your Feet Checklist as a daily reminder of this important self-care item.
- Avoid the cold and dress in layers. Some people find that the cold aggravates their pain symptoms.
- Read labels on your over-the-counter medications. Check with your doctor if you have any questions.
- Live a Healthy Life. Visit SecondsCount Healthy Living section for helpful tips on managing stress exercising, and heart-healthy nutrition.
- Cardiac Rehab. Recent studies have shown that people who attend cardiac rehabilitation are more likely to be alive and well at 5 years, compared to those who do not. Visit SecondsCount section on Cardiac Rehabilitation to see if you are eligible and to find a program.
- Control Your Risk Factors. Maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle will help you manage risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Learn more about how you can manage some of risk factors at SecondsCount section on Risk Factor Modification.
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You can do a lot on your own to treat PAD. Learn more from Dr. Sahil A. Parikh.
You’re off to a great start but don’t try to do it alone. Visit SecondsCount section on Healthy Living for more tools and tips to help you along the way. Check with hospitals in your community for more support or join an online discussion group.