Receiving a diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease should be taken as a serious warning sign that you need to make significant lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of disability and possibly death.
The build-up of atheroma (fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries) makes the arteries narrower and restricts the flow of blood to the legs, causing your muscles to experience painful cramps which only get better after you rest your legs. This process is called 'atherosclerosis'.
There are many factors that can dangerously speed up the narrowing of your arteries such as:
- high-fat diets and cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- high homocysteine levels (a type of amino acid [molecule that makes up protein] found in the blood)
Different medications or surgery can be used to treat the underlying causes of peripheral vascular disease while reducing your risk of developing another cardiovascular disease.
It is also important to take regular walks or to follow an exercise program, to lose weight and to follow a healthy diet.
If you smoke, your condition is far more likely to deteriorate if you continue to smoke. It is therefore critically important for you to stop smoking if you have peripheral vascular disease.
Last reviewed: January 2018