We’ve all heard the Surgeon General’s warnings about smoking. Most people know about the risk of lung cancer, but many other health concerns can also arise as a result of smoking. In fact, smoking poses the greatest danger to the health of your arteries. At Alate Health, one of the most serious complications we see from smoking is the development of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Below, we’ll discuss just what PAD is and how smoking increases your risk of getting it.
WHAT IS PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE (PAD)?
Peripheral Arterial Disease is a debilitating disorder that results in narrowed blood vessels and reduced blood flow to the limbs. It is a chronic disease in which plaque and fatty deposits build up in the leg arteries, worsening over time. Untreated PAD results in limited blood flow in the arteries, which may eventually become blocked.
More than 10 million people in the U.S. suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease, and it is largely determined by genetics and lifestyle choices like smoking. If you are a smoker, the American Heart Association recommends a PAD screening even if you don’t have any symptoms.
HOW DOES SMOKING INCREASE THE RISK OF DEVELOPING PAD?
Smoking can wreak havoc on almost every organ in the body, but the damage it inflicts on your heart and blood vessels can lead to serious health complications, including peripheral arterial disease. In fact, a leading risk factor of Peripheral Arterial Disease is smoking. Even smoking just half a pack of cigarettes a day increases the risk of PAD by 30 to 50 percent. Because smoking constricts blood vessels and causes blood to clot, it accelerates the buildup of plaque within the artery walls, which eventually leads to blockage.
If you develop PAD and are a smoker, it is imperative to quit as soon as possible. Smoking with PAD enhances symptoms such as leg pain, and it puts you at a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke and losing a foot or leg due to amputation.
If you are a smoker and have other risk factors for Peripheral Arterial Disease, visit us at Alate Vein Center today, even if you haven’t yet developed symptoms. We offer testing and minimally-invasive treatments that get you on the road to recovery sooner.