In this edition of KERA's weekly consumer health series, Vital Signs – Peripheral artery disease. Studies say at least one out of five elderly people suffer from hardened arteries reducing blood flow to the limbs. Speaking with Sam Baker, Dr. Stephen Hohmann, a vascular surgeon with Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, said peripheral artery disease can be painful, but you can avoid it.
Interesting points from Dr. Hohmann about Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD):
Who’s most at risk? “Peripheral artery disease is very common among the elderly particularly 60 to 70 years old. But what’s key about it is it’s a marker for coronary artery disease and stroke.”
Causes of PAD? “Top five things we talk about are diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, family history or high cholesterol. The classic symptoms would be cloudication or cramping and pain in the legs while walking, which is relieved with rest."
How to prevent PAD? Low cholesterol-low fat diets, smoking cessation and weight control. And dark chocolate? “There was a study that came out of Rome where they had 20 patients to see how many of them had an improvement if they ate a dark chocolate versus a milk chocolate. The idea is that there’s a chemical called polyphenol, that’s also in red wine and black tea, that may increase nitrous oxide production and allow the arteries to dilate. It’s fun to talk about dark chocolate, but I can tell you for sure exercise can improve your walking distance if you have PAD. I can you tell you for sure if you watch your diet, keep under weight and avoid diabetes, also is helpful. And if you stop smoking those are things that are guaranteed to help."
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