Understand Your Risk for PAD

Grandfather and grandson walking by a lake

People who smoke and/or have Type 2 diabetes are at especially high risk for peripheral artery disease, or PAD. If you have risk factors for peripheral artery disease, get screened, even if you're not having symptoms.

PAD risk factors you can't control

Certain risk factors for PAD can't be controlled, including:

  • Increasing age
    • Age 65 and older
    • Age 50 to 64 with risk factors for atherosclerosis, such as diabetes, a history of smoking or a family history of PAD after atherosclerosis
    • Age 50 and younger with type 2 diabetes and at least one other risk factor for atherosclerosis
  • Personal or family history of PAD, cardiovascular disease or stroke.
  • Race. PAD prevalence is greater in Black individuals.

PAD risk factors you can control

You can manage or control the following risk factors:

  • Cigarette smoking – Smokers may have almost three times the risk of PAD than nonsmokers. Use our guide to quitting smoking.
  • Type 2 diabetes – Having diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing PAD as well as other cardiovascular diseases. Learn more about the risks and how to manage diabetes.
  • High blood pressure – It's called "the silent killer" because it has no symptoms. Work with your health care professionals to monitor and control your blood pressure.
  • High blood cholesterol – High cholesterol contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can significantly reduce the blood's flow. Managing your cholesterol levels is essential to prevent or treat PAD.
  • Physical activity – It increases the distance that people with PAD can walk without pain and helps decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Supervised exercise programs are one of the treatments for people with PAD.

You can choose more than one risk factor to improve. Controlling only one isn’t as effective as taking care of all those you can control. 

PAD prevalence in the US is on track to triple in the next 30 years unless we work to prevent it

View our interactive library to learn more about PAD.

PAD Symptoms and Risk Factors

If you have cramping, tingling or weakness in your legs, you might have peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD. PAD can lead to leg or foot amputation and even heart attack or stroke. Early detection is key!

If you have trouble with your feet or legs, talk to a doctor about PAD and ask to take off your socks.