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Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms and Treatment

August 6, 2014 (Updated: August 21, 2018)
Lily Moran

Sometimes I wonder how mainstream medicine has gotten so far off track. These days, the hospitals and big medical practices are more concerned about making money than in keeping people healthy.

Here’s the situation – as many as 80 million Americans have heart disease. Tens of millions more suffer from diabetes, putting them at high risk for heart disease, too.

Heart disease usually involves circulation problems, especially in your legs. So now some doctors are aggressively pushing screening for a condition known as PAD (peripheral arterial disease).

They’re targeting the tens of millions of people with heart disease, hoping to sell them risky, expensive vascular surgery.

Unfortunately, this scheme is working. From 2000 through 2008, the number of patients having surgery on their arteries annually had more than doubled!

But here’s the interesting part – studies have repeatedly shown that you can get the same results from safe, inexpensive “non-invasive” therapies, such as an exercise program.

In other words, some vascular surgeons are keeping themselves busy by recommending angioplasties and stents for patients who could get the exact same outcome with regular walks and a few other lifestyle changes.

Make no mistake – PAD is a serious condition, and if it’s not treated, the complications can be very serious. But surgery isn’t the answer.

Inserting tubes known as stents in leg arteries or clearing clogged arteries with tiny balloons (angioplasty) may be touted as a high-tech solution to the problem. But the truth is, surgical solutions don’t even come close to living up to the hype.

In fact, what doctors should be explaining to people is that heart disease affects more than just your heart. It impacts your entire body, reducing circulation to all organs.

And just as heart disease can be minimized with a healthy diet, exercise, and appropriate supplements, so can PAD.

Heart disease is caused by clogging and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). But the clogging and hardening process occurs in arteries all through the body, not just in the chest. It’s not unusual, for example, for these patients to suffer from impotence, too.

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When arteries in your legs harden, the condition is called peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Patients say their legs feel heavy or tired while walking.

Other symptoms include pain, numbness, or bluish or cold feet, as well as open or very slow healing sores on the feet. If the condition isn’t treated, tissue in the legs or feet can die and gangrene may set in, leaving amputation as the only option.

If you have PAD, you have a choice of treatments. You can go the surgery route, and spend weeks or months in painful recovery.

Or you can take your health into your own hands, and use these tried-and-true lifestyle changes to turn the condition around.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of PAD, an “ankle/brachial index” test can give your doctor an idea of how well your blood is flowing and whether or not PAD is a problem for you.

If you are diagnosed with PAD, here are my six suggestions for natural treatment:

1.IF YOU SMOKE, STOP. This is non-negotiable. Smoking makes heart disease and PAD worse, so stop smoking before it kills you. There are many options available to help you quit. Do yourself a favor and check them out.

2. Eat a nutritious, whole foods diet. That means no processed or prepared or fast food. Instead, try the Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to improve PAD symptoms. You will miss all of the fat, sugar, and salt in these foods at first. But my patients tell me once they see how good they feel when they’re eating “real food,” they don’t want to go back. Ever.

3. Exercise regularly. Please don’t ignore this one or make yourself crazy with workout equipment and gym memberships. Exercise can be as simple as a walk through the mall. Just get up and get moving.

4. Get a grip on high blood pressure. Start with seven, half-cup servings of fruits and vegetables daily, for their blood-lowering potassium. Meditation and other forms of stress management are natural remedies for high blood pressure, too.

5. Keep a tight lid on blood glucose levels if you are diabetic or insulin resistant. High blood sugar damages the artery linings, making them more vulnerable to PAD.

6. Take heart-friendly supplements.  My PAD patients have gotten excellent results from adding a few supplements to their daily regimen.

  • Start with 1,000 mg daily of a purified omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) product.
  • An additional 120 mg of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can help protect arteries, while supporting a healthy heart muscle.
  • Curcumin (500 to 1,500 mg daily) reduces inflammation and keeps your heart healthy. Look for a product enhanced for better absorption.
  • Take a product that combines systemic enzymes, such as serrapeptase, nattokinase, protease, lipase, bromelain, papain, rutin, and amla. This type of supplement helps prevent blood clots, a danger for everyone, but especially for PAD sufferers.

If you’re suffering with PAD symptoms, know that taking these steps to improve your health can really pay off. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll be enjoying better mobility, too.

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