How to Exercise When You Have PAD

Vascular expert Dr. Mohammed Islam and our team at Vein and Vascular Solutions NYC in Staten Island and the Midwood area of Brooklyn, New York, specialize in treating conditions that affect the health of your arteries and veins, including peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Read more about PAD and the role exercise plays in preventing circulatory damage linked to this relatively common condition that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates affects more than 6 million people in the United States.

Understanding PAD

You’ve probably heard that plaque build-up (atherosclerosis) and decreased blood flow through the arteries feeding your cardiac muscle (heart) is responsible for most heart attacks. Did you know, though, that your peripheral arteries can also become clogged with plaque?

Peripheral arteries are those that supply blood to your legs, arms, kidneys, stomach, and head. As fatty deposits build up and these vital arteries narrow, they cannot provide the blood your body needs to function normally.  

This leads to symptoms associated with PAD which are most frequently noted in the legs first and may include:

These symptoms can occur in one or both legs and typically increase in severity as the condition advances.  

Importance of treating PAD

It’s important to seek PAD treatment because the condition causes varying degrees of damage to your circulatory system and the organs served by your peripheral arteries.

PAD can, for instance, alter kidney function as renal arteries narrow. At its worst, this can lead to end-stage kidney disease that requires dialysis and/or a kidney transplant. 

Left untreated, PAD may also lead to tissue death (gangrene) in the lower extremities, resulting in limb amputation. It’s also important to note that plaque buildup in peripheral arteries may indicate disease in your coronary arteries and greatly increases your risk of developing blood clots and other life-threatening conditions.  

The treatments our specialists provide at Vein and Vascular Solutions NYC include minimally invasive procedures, such as angioplasty with or without stenting, that are designed to open blocked arteries and restore normal blood flow.

Your Vein and Vascular specialist may also recommend medications, diet changes, increased physical activity, and other conservative measures to treat and/or prevent PAD.

Exercising with PAD

Physical activity plays a vital role in treating as well as preventing PAD. Routine exercise can, for instance, help you manage diabetes, lose excess pounds, and prevent other conditions that increase your risk of developing arterial disease.

Exercise also stimulates the natural formation of new or “collateral” vessels that your body uses to increase blood flow to muscles and other tissue structures affected by arterial disease.

Unfortunately, discomfort associated with PAD affecting your leg muscles often makes even a short trip through the grocery store a painful experience. You can, however, overcome this challenge by altering your workout slightly.

Start by including exercise that triggers improved circulation in your legs, such as walking. Rather than exercising continuously for 30 to 60 minutes, however, walk until you experience moderate discomfort or cramping in your calves or thighs.

Stop and rest until the pain lessens, typically for one to three minutes. Then resume your walk and stop again when your discomfort increases. Aim for decreasing the length of your resting phase as your circulation improves via therapy such as angioplasty, oral medications, and regular exercise.

We recommend you exercise only under a specialist’s supervision due to the many serious health complications associated with PAD.  

For an accurate diagnosis and further guidance regarding PAD treatment, schedule a visit today at Vein and Vascular Solutions NYC.

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