Control Your PAD Risk Factors
All women with PAD will need to work with their doctor to get their PAD risk factors under control, which can slow the progression of the disease and prevent future problems, including heart attack and stroke. By making healthy changes and taking medications if necessary, you will experience fewer PAD symptoms and may be able to avoid more invasive treatments to restore blood flow to the leg arteries.
- Quit smoking. Quitting smoking can slow the progression of PAD, prevent amputation, and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. There are medications, support groups, and programs to help you stop smoking. Your doctor can also help. See our section on quitting smoking or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for more information.
- Work with your doctor to get your blood pressure under control with lifestyle changes and medications if necessary. ACE inhibitor drugs may be able to prevent heart attack and stroke in women with PAD, even if they do not have high blood pressure. See Are ACE inhibitors as effective in African Americans for more on how your race may affect how well these drugs work.
- Control high cholesterol. Statin drugs can lower high cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke even if you do not have high cholesterol.
- Get regular exercise – at least 30 minutes a day most days each week. Most women with PAD should also participate in an exercise rehabilitation program, but it is important to keep exercising even after your program ends.
- If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels
- All women with PAD need to practice proper foot care
- Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if you are overweight or obese
- Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fruit, green vegetables, and whole grains, and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.