“Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!” This famous line from the 1960s television series Lost in Space was a memorable way in which the show’s B9 Robot acted as young Will’s protector to warn him of steps that he could take to avoid impending threats to his well-being.
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Likewise, it’s important to take steps to avoid possible danger ahead with developing peripheral arterial disease (PAD) if you are a man with known risk factors, including:
A recent study published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association that included nearly 45,000 men followed over 25 years found that these risk factors were each significantly associated with a higher risk of developing PAD. In the study, at least one of the four risk factors was present 96 percent of the time that PAD was diagnosed. Men who did not have any of the four risk factors were far less likely to develop PAD. Peripheral arterial disease, which affects at least 8 million people in the United States, is dangerous because it obstructs blood flow to your limbs and to the kidneys due to blocked and narrowed arteries, especially in the legs and pelvis.
“This large cohort study confirms that what we have seen as risk factors in men—hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking—are all independently related to the development of PAD,” says Daniel Clair, MD, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Vascular Surgery.
Dr. Clair says the study findings are especially noteworthy because they showed that the degree of risk associated with the four risk factors increases with the amount of time that each has been present and the intensity of the problem (for example, the severity of someone’s diabetic condition). “What this means for the general population,” he says, “is that to reduce risks, we need to be treating these risk factors early—because when they are present for long periods of time, they markedly increase risk.”
Like all vascular diseases, PAD can be treated medically, interventionally or surgically. However, as with any health condition, prevention is always the best medicine:
- If you smoke, quit. Your doctor can refer you to smoking cessation programs.
- Eat a healthy low fat diet. Limit fat to 30 percent of your daily calories, avoid trans fats, and make sure that saturated fats are no more than 7 percent of your total calories.
- Exercise. Begin a regular exercise program, such as walking.
- Manage other health conditions. Working with your physician on lifestyle changes and when needed, medication therapy, can help control, prevent, or even reverse chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that can lead to PAD and other serious medical conditions.
On Lost in Space, Will Robinson once offered to build the B9 Robot a new body. (“Mom always said I should make new friends,” Will told the Robot.) However, here on Earth, we only get one body. If you are a man who has any of the four risk factors associated with developing PAD, you should work closely with your physician. With appropriate treatment, PAD can be controlled, sometimes reversed, or prevented.
Learn more about peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
Learn more about hypertension (high blood pressure)
Learn more about high cholesterol
Learn more about type 2 diabetes
Learn more about smoking and heart disease