Can Exercise Improve Your Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also called peripheral arterial disease, is common among older people, affecting about 10 million people in the United States. It often has no symptoms, but when people experience symptoms, it's usually leg pain and cramping. 

Because PAD usually affects older people, they often think that leg pain is a natural part of aging, and they tend to live with the pain instead of seeking treatment. 

Leg pain is not normal, and it's something you don't have to live with daily. More importantly, if PAD is left untreated, it could lead to serious conditions such as a heart attack or stroke. 

If your legs hurt, you should get a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan. At Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center, our vascular experts have extensive experience diagnosing and treating PAD so you can resume a pain-free lifestyle. 

What is PAD?

PAD is when plaque, which is made of fatty deposits, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances, builds up inside your artery walls. 

This plaque buildup, called atherosclerosis, makes it difficult for your arteries to carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. It primarily affects the parts of your body farthest from your heart and to which your blood needs to travel the farthest, namely your legs and feet. 

Symptoms of PAD include leg pain, which worsens when you walk and subsides when you rest. Other symptoms may include:

How can exercise improve PAD?

While walking may be the last thing you want to do if you have leg pain, it may be the best way to reduce the pain and prevent PAD from worsening. Studies have shown that exercise, specifically walking, can improve PAD symptoms and prevent it from worsening. 

Walking helps improve your circulation, which can ease the pain of PAD. It's best to stretch first, start slowly, and rest often. The goal is to push yourself past your comfort zone but not push yourself to the point of debilitating pain. 

You won't be able to resolve your symptoms in a day or two. Remember, it took time for your PAD to develop. It will take time to reduce the symptoms as well. 

Before you start any exercise program, consult your doctor first. 

If you're experiencing leg pain and having trouble walking, call our experts at Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan. You can also request an appointment through this website.

Our offices are located on Long Island in Hauppauge, Port Jefferson Station, and Riverhead, New York.

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