Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure and PAD: What's the Connection? 

May 14, 2024
Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure and PAD: What's the Connection? 
May is Hypertension Awareness Month, a good time to learn about an often overlooked  condition. Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension lurks silently and is a major risk factor for heart disease. It affects up to 50% of Americans.

May is Hypertension Awareness Month. Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease. 

As many as 50% of Americans have this condition, which is known as a silent killer, because few symptoms emerge until it reaches dangerous levels. The only way to know your blood pressure is high is through accurate testing by medical professionals over a period of time. 

As a cardiovascular specialty practice, the team at Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins regularly deals with hypertension and its related conditions. Elevated blood pressure over time puts you at risk of developing peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

PAD is another disease of the circulatory system that also has few symptoms until its late stages. Today, we examine the connection between high blood pressure and PAD. 

Hypertension basics

As your heart beats, it pumps blood through the arteries to supply the cells in your body with oxygen and other nutrients. Blood pressure measures the force of the blood against the walls of your arteries. 

When you have normal blood pressure, the walls easily handle this surge, which is highest when the heart contracts and pushes blood out. Hypertension means that blood pressure is beyond safe limits and may start to damage artery walls. 

The higher your blood pressure rises above the healthy normal of 120/80, the greater your risk for heart disease and complications, like heart attack and stroke. 

Defining PAD

Arteries in the peripheries — your arms and legs — suffer the most when you have circulation issues. Hypertension increases your chances for developing PAD. 

It’s easier for plaque, a sticky, waxy substance composed of excess cholesterol and other blood components, to form on arterial walls when you have high blood pressure. As plaque deposits grow, they  clog the arteries, hindering blood flow. PAD typically affects the legs more often than the arms. 

Complications of PAD

Any time your blood flow is compromised, health risks start to skyrocket, and PAD is no different. You may begin to notice that sores on your lower legs refuse to heal. 

This could be a sign of critical limb ischemia, which can cause tissue to die. In extreme cases, you may need an amputation to limit the damage. 

When arterial plaques break away from vessel walls, they’re free to travel through your bloodstream, becoming caught elsewhere in your body and restricting blood flow. This increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Managing the connection between hypertension and PAD

If you have high blood pressure, there are ways to reduce it, including medications and lifestyle modifications. Some of the most powerful changes you can make include: 

  • Quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy body mass index
  • Reducing the saturated fats in your diet
  • Controlling your LDL cholesterol levels
  • Increasing your level of physical activity

It’s important to manage your blood sugar levels as well.  Type 2 diabetes is also a risk factor for both hypertension and PAD.

Visit Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins when you need a medical partner in the battle against hypertension and PAD. Request an appointment online or by calling the closest of our Miami Florida, offices. Book your visit today.