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Peripheral Arterial Disease of the Legs (cont.)

Prevention

You can prevent or delay peripheral arterial disease (PAD) by controlling risk factors and changing your lifestyle. See Living With PAD for ideas and support.

Living With PAD

There are many things you can do to keep peripheral arterial disease (PAD) from getting worse. These steps may also help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, which can help control PAD.

And doing any one of these things can help you reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, which is important to do when you have PAD.

Focus on a healthy lifestyle

  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for peripheral arterial disease. Quitting smoking may help prevent PAD or slow its progression. For more information on how to stop smoking, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
  • Follow a walking program or other regular exercise, and consider adding weight training too.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in your target range.
  • Avoid getting sick from the flu. Get a flu shot every year.

A cardiac rehab program can help you make lifestyle changes. In cardiac rehab, a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you make new, healthy habits.

Care for your feet and legs

Take good care of your feet and legs. When you have reduced blood flow to your legs, even minor injuries can lead to serious infections.

  • Treat wounds, cuts, and scrapes on your legs right away. Poor blood flow to the legs caused by PAD can keep wounds, cuts, and scrapes from healing properly. Prompt treatment can help you avoid this problem and is especially important for people who also have diabetes.
  • Avoid shoes that are too tight or that rub your feet. Shoes should be comfortable and fit well. Avoid socks or stockings that are tight enough to leave elastic-band marks on your legs. They can make circulation problems and symptoms from PAD worse.
  • Keep your feet clean and moisturized to prevent your skin from drying and cracking. Place cotton or lamb's wool between your toes to prevent rubbing and to absorb moisture.
  • If open sores form, keep them dry and cover them with nonstick bandages. See your doctor as soon as you discover an open sore.
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