If you were having chest pain, hopefully you know by now how crucial it is to get to emergency intervention, but if you were having leg pain when you walk would you see a doctor for it? As Nancy Naeve Brown tells us the answer should be yes. Here's more on peripheral artery disease and reducing your risk factors.
If you have leg pain when you walk or exercise but it's relieved by rest there is a chance you have a blockage in the blood vessels in your leg which means you also have peripheral artery disease. The risk factors for vascular disease are really the same as those for coronary disease but most people don't take it as seriously.
"Diabetes, High blood pressure, high cholesterol, but the most important risk factor is smoking. It's worth 3 of the others that lead to blockage of the arteries to the legs. If you quit smoking you will help stop the progression of disease, "Dr. Michael Bacharach with North Central Heart said.
Reducing your risk factors for peripheral artery disease was one of the topics discussed recently at the 17th annual North Central Heart Institute's Vascular Symposium held at the Sioux Falls Convention Center co-chaired by Dr. Michael Bacharach. One of the seminars was led Dr. Jim Froelich with the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center on understanding PAD.
"We often talk about heart disease and most people who have heart disease don't have a problem with their heart, they have disease of the blood vessels that feed the heart or vascular disease, "Dr. Froelich said.
Studies show that mild exercise like walking can greatly improve your vascular health. He suggests parking far away from the front door of your work place and take the stairs instead of the elevator. It all helps.
"What I say to people in this; if you have kids, if you had kids, when they were young how often would you say is was a rough day I'm not going to pick up the kids from school, I'll get them tomorrow. You'll never do that. You always found time in the day to do certain things. Somehow you have to place that high a priority on going for a walk everyday. Set aside the time. This has to happen, "Dr. Froelich said.
"We recommend it for patients who have relatively mild disease so they could avoid surgery or angioplasty or stents in the future. We put all of our patients who undergo some type of revascularization (if they had a balloon or stent procedure) we put them all in a walking program because we know that's a benefit to them," Dr. Bacharach said.
Dr. Bacharach and Dr. Froelich say the most important thing to keep in mind about regular exercise is putting the emphasis on regular not exercise. You don't have to run 5 miles everyday. Walking a half hour at least 5 days a week will do your heart and all the vessels that feed it, all kinds of good.
Diet also plays a critical role in your vascular health. Cutting back significantly on carbohydrates, increasing your daily intake of fiber and protein is strongly recommended.
Call 1-877-AT-AVERA (1-877-282-8372) for more information or to schedule an appointment for vascular screening at the Avera Heart Hospital.