Harvard Health Letter

Prevent peripheral artery disease

Eliminating four risk factors can reduce PAD cases.

When it comes to peripheral artery disease (PAD) among men, common risk factors have a strong cumulative effect. That's among the findings of a recent Harvard study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. "The more risk factors one accumulates, the higher the risk, and the severity of risk factors increases risk," says author Dr. Ken Mukamal, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

PAD and its risks

PAD is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries in your limbs, especially your legs. These clogged arteries put you at risk for ulcers and even gangrene. In addition, people with PAD are at an increased risk for heart attack or stroke.

Researchers found that most PAD cases in men have four main risk factors: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. "These risk factors are even more powerful predictors of PAD than they are of coronary disease or stroke," says Dr. Mukamal.

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