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PAD risk assessment


Reviewed 4/23/2021

PAD RISK ASSESSMENT

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) puts you on track for serious complications, often before you even know it.

To learn more about your risk factors for PAD, answer the following questions.

Note: This assessment is not intended to be a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider.

1. Do you smoke?

If you answered yes: The risk for PAD may be four times greater for smokers than nonsmokers. Why? Smoking damages and tightens blood vessels, limiting circulation to your legs. Smoking also contributes to other PAD risk factors, like high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels. If you're ready to quit, your doctor can help.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered no: Great! Not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Along with diabetes, smoking is one of the greatest PAD risk factors that you can control.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

2. Do you have diabetes?

If you answered yes: Diabetes is a major risk factor for PAD. Having diabetes also makes serious PAD complications, like sores, infections and even limb amputations, more likely to occur. The good news? Managing your diabetes may help you prevent PAD.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered no: That's great! Along with smoking, having diabetes is one of the greatest risk factors for PAD that you can control. You can help reduce your risk of diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and choosing a healthy diet.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

If you answered I don't know: Diabetes doesn't always cause symptoms at first. To learn more about your diabetes risk factors, take this assessment.

Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

3. Are you older than age 60?

If you answered yes: PAD can develop at any age. But your risk rises as you get older.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you answered no: PAD can develop at any age. But your risk rises as you get older.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

4. Do you have high blood pressure?

If you answered yes: High blood pressure damages blood vessels, setting the stage for circulation problems. Follow your doctor's advice to control your blood pressure.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered no: That's good. High blood pressure is a risk factor for PAD and many other health conditions. Remember: High blood pressure has no symptoms, so you'll want to keep getting blood pressure checks during your doctor visits.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered I don't know: High blood pressure damages blood vessels, setting the stage for PAD. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get your blood pressure checked by a healthcare provider.

Source: American Heart Association

5. Do you have unhealthy cholesterol levels?

If you answered yes: People who have high blood cholesterol levels are more likely to have plaque buildup in their peripheral arteries, which causes PAD. People with PAD often have plaque buildup in other arteries too, including those leading to and from the heart and brain. Controlling your cholesterol is an essential part of preventing or treating PAD.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered no, my cholesterol is under control: Great! High blood cholesterol levels can cause plaque buildup in your arteries, including those in your legs, heart or brain. Choosing heart-healthy foods, exercising regularly and watching your weight can help you keep your cholesterol in a healthy range.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered I don't know: Since unhealthy cholesterol levels don't cause any symptoms, you'll need a blood test to find out. Ask your healthcare provider how often your cholesterol levels should be checked.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

6. Do you have a family history of PAD, heart disease, stroke or poor circulation?

If you answered yes: Having a family history of heart or circulation problems could increase your risk for PAD. This could be due to shared lifestyle traits or genetics. Having a family history of these blood vessel problems makes it even more important for you to adopt healthy lifestyle habits.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered no: Your risk for PAD may not be as high compared to people with heart or circulation problems in their family.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

7. Are you overweight or obese?

If you answered yes: Carrying excess weight makes you more likely to develop PAD. One reason is that excess weight often contributes to PAD risk factors, like type 2 diabetes.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered no: Being at a healthy weight helps decrease your risk for PAD and many other diseases. Weight problems can creep up, so keep up those healthy habits, like eating healthy and exercising regularly.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered I don't know: People with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher are categorized as overweight. Those with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese. To check your BMI, use this calculator.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

8. Do you have a sedentary lifestyle?

If you answered yes (I get very little exercise): If you don't get much exercise, you are likelier to have PAD.

Source: American Heart Association

If you answered no (I exercise regularly): Keep up the good work! Exercising regularly helps prevent PAD and risk factors such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.

Source: American Heart Association

9. Are you an African American, American Indian, or Hispanic or Latino?

If you answered yes: Your race or ethnicity may raise your risk for PAD.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

If you answered no: Your race or ethnicity may not raise your risk for PAD.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

RESULTS

If your answers were all "No":

Based on your answers, you don't appear to have any major risk factors for PAD. However, risk factors can change over time, and the risk of PAD goes up as you age. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your PAD risk.

This assessment is not a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider. If you have questions about your health or your risk for PAD, talk with your provider, regardless of the results listed here.

Learn the signs and symptoms of PAD

If your answers were all "No" and "I don't know":

Because you answered "I don't know," you should learn more about the following risk factors for PAD:

  • Whether you have diabetes.
  • Your blood pressure levels.
  • Your cholesterol levels.
  • Your weight.

This assessment is not a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider. If you have questions about your health or your risk for PAD, talk with your provider, regardless of the results listed here.

Learn the signs and symptoms of PAD

If your answers were a mix of "Yes" and "No":

Your answers suggest that you have some of the following risk factors for PAD:

  • You smoke.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You're older than 60.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have unhealthy cholesterol levels.
  • You have a family history of PAD, heart disease, stroke or poor circulation.
  • You're overweight or obese.
  • You get little or no exercise.
  • You're an African American, American Indian, or Hispanic or Latino.

Having risk factors for PAD doesn't mean you'll get PAD. You can lower your risk by making some doable lifestyle changes (like eating heart-healthy foods, exercising and not smoking) and managing risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure or unhealthy cholesterol levels.

This assessment is not a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider. If you have questions about your health or your risk for PAD, talk with your provider, regardless of the results listed here.

Learn the signs and symptoms of PAD

If your answers were a mix of "Yes," "No" and "I don't know":

Your answers suggest that you have some of the following risk factors for PAD:

  • You smoke.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You're older than 60.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have unhealthy cholesterol levels.
  • You have a family history of PAD, heart disease, stroke or poor circulation.
  • You're overweight or obese.
  • You get little or no exercise.
  • You're an African American, American Indian, or Hispanic or Latino.

Because you answered "I don't know," you should learn more about the following risk factors for PAD:

  • Whether you have diabetes.
  • Your blood pressure levels.
  • Your cholesterol levels.
  • Your weight.

Having risk factors for PAD doesn't mean you'll get PAD. You can lower your risk by making some doable lifestyle changes (like eating heart-healthy foods, exercising and not smoking) and managing risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure or unhealthy cholesterol levels.

This assessment is not a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider. If you have questions about your health or your risk for PAD, talk with your provider, regardless of the results listed here.

Learn the signs and symptoms of PAD

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