Your Pad Risk

Some causes of PAD, or peripheral artery disease, cannot be prevented. You can’t alter your age, for instance, or your family history. Your risk of PAD can be lowered, however, by controlling existing health conditions and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Smoking and the Risk of PAD

Tobacco use is one of the most common causes of PAD. The rate of peripheral artery disease in smokers is four times that seen in nonsmokers (NHLBI, 2008).

Quitting smoking is easier said than done, of course, but your PAD risk drops dramatically if you stop using tobacco products. People with existing PAD often see symptom improvement if they stop smoking.

Diabetes and Peripheral Artery Disease

Diabetes, like smoking, is one of the common causes of PAD. Obviously no one sets out to become diabetic, but many risk factors for diabetes can be controlled, such as weight and diet.

While diabetes increases your PAD risk, keeping diabetes under control helps control peripheral artery disease symptoms.

High Cholesterol and Your PAD Risk

Doctors define high cholesterol as a total cholesterol level of 240 milligrams per deciliter or higher. High cholesterol levels increase the risk of atherosclerosis, or the formation of fatty plaques in the artery walls. Atherosclerosis is the leading medical cause of PAD.

Cholesterol levels can be controlled through dietary changes or by taking cholesterol-lowering medication.

Obesity and Peripheral Artery Disease

Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index of 25 or higher. Obesity increases your risk of PAD in several ways. Excess weight increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and heart diseases associated with PAD. Obesity also increases the risk of atherosclerosis.

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Hypertension is a condition that can develop due to multiple factors, including smoking and obesity. High blood pressure can cause a number of cardiovascular diseases and increases your PAD risk. As with cholesterol, hypertension can be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes.

Reducing Your PAD Risk

Controlling potential causes of PAD does more than lower your risk of peripheral artery disease. Watching your weight, not smoking and controlling medical conditions improves overall health while reducing the risk of strokes, cancers and heart attacks.


American Heart Association. (2011). Your risk for PAD. Retrieved March 2, 2011, from

Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi Pharmaceuticals Partnership. (2009). Are you at risk for PAD? Retrieved March 2, 2011, from

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Peripheral artery disease (PAD): Risk factors. Retrieved March 2, 2011, from