Question: I have been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease. I have smoked until recently, when I quit cold turkey. What other things can I do to help myself?
Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Many people can manage the symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD) and stop the progression of the disease through lifestyle changes, especially quitting smoking. To stabilize or improve PAD, exercise is a key component. Success in treatment of PAD is often measured by how far you can walk without pain. Proper exercise helps condition your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Your doctor can help you develop an appropriate exercise plan. Consume a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat can help control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which contribute to atherosclerosis. Diets rich in nutrients — such as vitamins A, B-6, C and E; folate; fiber; and omega-3 fatty acids — are associated with a lower incidence of PAD.
Over-the-counter cold remedies that contain pseudoephedrine (Advil Cold and Sinus, Aleve Sinus & Headache, Claritin-D, Sudafed, Tylenol Cold, Zyrtec-D, others) constrict your blood vessels and may increase your PAD symptom. In addition to the above suggestions, take good care of your feet. People with PAD, especially those with diabetes, are at risk of poor healing of sores on the lower legs and feet. Poor blood circulation can postpone or prevent proper healing and increases the risk of infection. Wash your feet daily, dry them thoroughly and moisturize often to prevent cracks that can lead to infection. Don't moisturize between the toes, as this can encourage fungal growth. See a doctor if you have noticed any cracks in the skin of your feet.