Preventing Pad Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) prevention requires an understanding of risk factors for the disease. Controlling one risk helps with PAD prevention, but your chances of preventing PAD are much higher if you address all controllable risk factors.

Family History and PAD Risk Factors

Not all PAD risk factors can be controlled. A family history of atherosclerosis and heart disease isn’t something a person can avoid or modify. A family history does not, however, mean peripheral artery disease is inevitable, only that the potential for the disease is present. Controlling other PAD risk factors may be enough for PAD prevention.

Smoking and Preventing PAD

According to the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute, smokers are four times more likely to develop peripheral artery disease than nonsmokers (2008). Successfully quitting tobacco use greatly increases a person’s chance of preventing PAD. Your doctor can recommend resources to help you stop smoking.

Preventing PAD through Exercise

Regular exercise is an important aspect of PAD prevention. Physical activity helps control a number of PAD risk factors, including excess weight, hypertension and heart disease.

Before starting any exercise program, consult your doctor. This is especially important if you already suffer from peripheral artery disease, atherosclerosis or heart disease. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity at least three times a week. People already experiencing PAD symptoms should start with mild exercise such as walking.

Diet and PAD Prevention

Peripheral artery disease symptoms develop due to plaque blockages building upon artery walls. Plaque includes fatty substances and cholesterol.

A diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and salt reduces the risk of hypertension and high cholesterol, both of which are PAD risk factors. A healthy diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products helps with PAD prevention.

Weight and PAD Risk Factors

Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and diet reduces the risk of peripheral artery disease and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Anyone with a body mass index higher than 25 should talk to a doctor about PAD prevention and losing weight.

Control and Monitor Existing Medical Conditions

A number of health conditions increase the risk of peripheral artery disease. Hypertension, high cholesterol levels and heart disease all increase the risk of PAD, as does uncontrolled diabetes.

Carefully monitoring and controlling existing health conditions lowers the risk of PAD. If you have diabetes, it’s very important to control blood sugar levels to increase your chances of PAD prevention.


American Heart Association. (2011). Your risk for PAD. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Peripheral artery disease (PAD). Retrieved March 14, 2011, from

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2008). What is peripheral arterial disease? Retrieved March 14, 2011, from