Pain from PAD? Exercise is best, says UK expert

If you have peripheral artery disease, or PAD, even a short walk can cause pain. This pain, called intermittent claudication, or IC, is caused when arteries in your legs become blocked with plaque. PAD is a serious disease, but the good news is that treatment is usually simple.

Exercise is generally the most effective treatment for PAD. Your doctor can recommend a program of Supervised Exercise Training, also known as cardiac rehabilitation.

What to expect from supervised exercise training:

  • A personalized exercise plan that works for you.
  • An assessment of your risk factors for heart and blood vessel disease.
  • Counseling and psychological/stress assessment.
  • Education and support to help you avoid tobacco and maintain a healthy weight and diet.
  • The opportunity to meet and share stories with other patients like you.

Benefits of supervised exercise training:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
  • Control other heart disease symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Stop or reverse damage to blood vessels in your heart and legs.
  • Improve your stamina and strength so you can enjoy work, hobbies and exercise.
  • Improve your confidence and well-being.
  • Monitor and control your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Improve communication with your doctor and other healthcare providers about your progress.

Dr. Nathan Orr, a vascular surgeon at UK HealthCare, says that an exercise program not only helps patients walk longer distances, but can also help them avoid the need for complex surgery.

“A regular, directed exercise program will result in an improvement in your quality of life, an improvement in your overall health, and a lower risk of vascular disease progressing to limb loss,” Orr said.

Exercise training can work as well as medications and other more invasive treatments for PAD and IC, and it may be covered by your insurance. Contact UK Cardiac Rehabilitation at 859-323-5424 for more information.


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