Tips on Controlling Your Symptoms
PAD symptoms are often worse at night because gravity is not pulling blood down to your legs when you lie down. You may want to consider raising the head of your bed by 4 to 6 inches so your feet are lower than your heart. This improves blood flow to the legs and can reduce nighttime PAD symptoms. Many women with PAD tend to sleep sitting up or with one leg dangling over the side of the bed, but this can cause painful swelling.
Cold temperatures make PAD symptoms worse by causing arteries in your legs and arms to contract to keep body heat in, reducing blood flow to the hands and feet. You can minimize this problem by avoiding going outside in cold weather as much as possible, and by dressing warmly with plenty of layers.
Certain drugs can cause the blood vessels in your legs and arms to constrict (shrink), reducing blood flow to the legs and making PAD symptoms worse. These include caffeine, nicotine, and nasal decongestants to treat colds, allergies, or hay fever. Make sure your doctor knows about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and herbal or dietary supplements, and ask if there are any you should avoid.
If lifestyle and behavioral changes are not enough, a medication called cilostazol can relieve PAD symptoms and increase the distance you are able to walk without pain. See Drugs to Treat Leg Pain to learn more.
For More Information: Interactive Workbook on Living with PAD