Health Information

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

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Specific lifestyle changes will be determined by which risk factors you have for PAD.

General Guidelines

  • Manage your high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Talk with your doctor about what treatments may work best for you.
  • Talk with your doctor about how you can quit smoking.
  • Talk with a dietitian about eating a balanced and healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly. Under your doctor’s supervision, gradually increase your walking. This helps improve blood flow and reduces the risk of infection.
Foot Care

Regular inspection of your feet will help prevent serious complications that can lead to amputation. To keep your feet healthy, take these steps:

  • Regularly examine your feet for injuries, ingrown toenails, or cuts
  • Care for any injuries of the feet meticulously with regular cleansing and dressings
  • Avoid dry skin by using moisturizing creams
  • Wear shoes that breathe but do not expose the toes, such as sandals
  • Avoid shoe chafing
  • See a podiatrist for toe or toenail problems, and tell him or her that you have PAD
Managing Claudication

Even if the major arteries are hardened and narrowed, your body can build collateral circulation, or a network of new small blood vessels that keep tissues alive. These blood vessels grow in response to demand. Talk with your doctor about starting a walking program. You should only exercise under your doctor's supervision.

When to Contact Your Doctor

You need regular check-ups to assess the progress of your vascular disease.

Be alert for:

  • Wounds that get infected
  • Wounds that don't heal
  • Worsening claudication
  • Sudden worsening of symptoms, particularly pain at rest

Revision Information

  • Living with peripheral arterial disease. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: . Updated April 1, 2011. Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of lower extremities. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated August 3, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Prevention and treatment of PAD. American Heart Association website. Available at: . Updated November 20, 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.