Pad Lifestyle Changes Controlling Pad Symptoms With Diet And Exercise

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) treatment focuses on lifestyle changes. In many cases, changes to activity levels, diet and tobacco use can control PAD symptoms as well as medication or surgical treatment.

Smoking and PAD Symptoms

Quitting smoking is one of the most important PAD lifestyle changes a person can make. Smokers develop peripheral artery disease at a rate four times higher than nonsmokers, according to the American Heart Association (2011).

Tobacco also increases the risk of severe PAD symptoms, including leg pain, skin ulcers and even amputation. Quitting smoking slows the rate of PAD progression, and, in combination with other PAD lifestyle changes, can halt the growth of arterial blockages.

Activity Levels and PAD Treatment

The American Heart Association reports that regular activity reduces the risk of PAD-related deaths by up to a third (2011). Blood flow to the legs increases with exercise, which in turn eases painful PAD symptoms.

Regular, gentle exercise can be just as effective as medication or surgical PAD treatment. Painful PAD symptoms may initially limit physical activity, so for most people a gentle walking program is recommended. The key to successfully controlling PAD pain with exercise, as with many PAD lifestyle changes, is consistency. Exercise for the same amount of time every day. Remember to discuss any exercise program with your doctor.

Diet and PAD Treatment

PAD lifestyle changes include eating a healthy diet. A diet high in fibers, fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight, lower LDL cholesterol levels and control hypertension. High levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess weight all increase the risk of peripheral artery disease.

Dietary PAD treatment also restricts saturated fats and trans fatty acids, substituting unsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish oils and vegetables. While omega 3 supplements are available, PAD symptoms are better controlled with long-term dietary changes than with supplement use.


A.D.A.M. (2009). Peripheral artery disease – Legs. Retrieved March 9, 2011, from

American Heart Association. (2011). Prevention and treatment of PAD. Retrieved March 9, 2011, from

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2008). What is peripheral artery disease? Retrieved March 9, 2011, from