Leg Vein Health

Updated 27 January 2016

Exercise keeps leg arteries clear

People with low lifetime levels of physical activity are at increased risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD), a new study has found.

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People with low lifetime levels of physical activity are at increased risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD), a new study has found.

People with PAD have narrowed leg arteries that reduce blood flow, which impairs the ability to walk.

The researchers checked for PAD in 1,381 patients referred for a test called an elective conorary angiography.

Read: Danger lurking in your veins

The arterial condition was detected in 258 (19%) of these patients. The investigators then looked at the lifetime recreational activity (LRA) of the participants.

The assessment of LRA included vigorous activities such as jogging, moderate activities such as golf, and light activities such as strolling.

PAD was nearly twice as common among the least active patients (25.6%) than among those who were physically active (13.7%).

Read: Mediterrenean diet prevents clogged leg arteries 

After factoring in other risk factors, the researchers determined that patients who reported no regular LRA had a 1.5 times increased risk of developing PAD.

The study is published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

Exercise and PAD

"Our study is the first to reveal that a person's level of recreational activity is associated with whether or not they develop PAD," co-author Dr John P. Cooke, a professor of medicine at Stanford University's Falk Cardiovascular Research Center, said in a journal news release.

"Based on our study, it seems likely that people who regularly engage in recreational activity (even mild exercise such as strolling) throughout their lives are much less likely to develop lifestyle-limiting and limb-threatening PAD," Cooke said in a news release from the Society for Vascular Surgery. 

Read more: 

When varicose veins could be a sign of something serious  

spray-on skin may heal leg ulcers  

prevent blood clots when flying 

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Dr. Riaz Motara is a specialist physician and cardiologist. He has an interest in preventative cardiology. He runs Veinsculpt, the first and only comprehensive vein clinic in South Africa, using endo-venous laser ablation as the treatment of choice.He also operates the only Women's Heart Clinic in South Africa.

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