According to the American Heart Association reports, it is estimated that about 8.5 million Americans, most of them aged above 50 years, suffer from PAD. While doctors have not found the exact cause that leads to plaque buildup in the arteries, controlling various PAD risk factors can help in reducing the plaque deposits in the artery.
Smoking is one of the main contributors to the onset of peripheral artery disease. Smoking usually damages the arteries’ inner layers. As the body attempts to heal itself, plaque often builds upon the damaged area. The condition also leads to the formation of blood clots (thrombi). Thrombi tend to stick to the artery walls, narrowing the space for blood flow even further. According to the National Institutes of Health, ceasing to smoke is shown to be effective in reducing or eliminating the PAD effects.
• Lack of Exercise
Lack of exercise is another strong indicator that is connected to peripheral arterial disease. Patients suffering from PAD will benefit enormously by exercising regularly. Regular workouts improve blood flow and boost overall health by reducing blood sugar and blood pressure. It also helps lower cholesterol, which is the main constituent of plaque.
• High Cholesterol, Diabetes & High Blood Pressure
Patients who have diabetes are also at high risk of PAD due to high blood sugar. High blood glucose is connected to plaque buildup in the arteries. Medical practitioners state that controlling Type II diabetes through the proper diet, exercise, glucose monitoring, and medication helps in reducing PAD risks. Patients diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also at increased risks of PAD. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, which is key to reducing PAD risks.
• Blood Vessel Inflammation
PAD is not always linked to plaque buildup in the arteries. The condition may also develop due to blood vessel inflammation, which also causes the arteries to narrow. People with leg injuries may also be at high risk for PAD. The condition is also caused by radiation exposure and unusual ligaments and muscle anatomy.
Other factors that increase the risks of developing artery disease include
• Obesity, especially in people with a body mass index over 30
• People suffering from heart disease. According to The American Heart Association reports, people with heart disease have a 1 in 3 chance of having PAD
• Increasing age, especially people aged over 65 years. Individuals aged 50 years and have the risks factors for atherosclerosis have a higher chance of contracting PAD
• Hereditary factors- if your family has a history of peripheral artery disease, stroke, or heart disease
• People with high levels of Homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that helps the body to make protein and tissue building
• Gender – males are at a higher risk than females
It is also important to note that in Peripheral arterial disease, the risk factors are addictive. This means that if a person has a combination of two risk factors, such as smoking and high cholesterol, this individual is at an increased risk of having a more severe PAD than an individual with only one risk factor has.