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Lifestyle Changes for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease

Lifestyle habits—such as smoking, being sedentary, and eating unhealthy foods—can lead to high blood pressureobesity, and diabetes, all risk factors for aortoiliac occlusive disease. These habits can also lead to hyperlipidemia, a buildup of fats in the blood vessels that can stress the heart and cause plaque to build up in your arteries and veins. Atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque, is the leading cause of aortoiliac occlusive disease and other peripheral artery diseases.

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Your NYU Langone doctor may recommend several lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and exercising regularly, to improve the health of your arteries and prevent symptoms from getting worse.

Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, stresses the heart and blood vessels. Over time, it can lead to organ and tissue damage, heart disease, heart attack, or stroke

Because high blood pressure can be a sign of plaque buildup in the arteries, NYU Langone doctors monitor your blood pressure and other symptoms, such as pain in your legs, which can indicate you have aortoiliac occlusive disease.

If you have hypertension, NYU Langone doctors recommend that you have your blood pressure monitored regularly. You may be able to lower your blood pressure by adhering to a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and reducing your salt intake. Doctors may also suggest exercising regularly, decreasing alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking to reduce your blood pressure.

Quit Smoking

One of the best ways to prevent or stop the progression of aortoiliac occlusive disease is to quit smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes harm blood cells and blood vessels and increase the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries. 

When combined with high blood pressure, obesity, unhealthy cholesterol levels, or uncontrolled diabetes, smoking puts you at an even greater risk of developing aortoiliac occlusive disease. NYU Langone offers Tobacco Cessation Programs that can help you quit for good.

Eat Healthfully

Elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood can cause blockages in the arteries. There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL, or “good,” cholesterol helps to remove unhealthy cholesterol from the body. LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol attaches to artery walls, possibly blocking them. 

Too much bad cholesterol or not enough good cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of developing a buildup of plaque in blood vessels. 

NYU Langone nutritionists may suggest you consume more fruits and vegetables, as well as lean proteins, to keep cholesterol levels in check. They may also recommend that you limit or avoid fried foods, sugary desserts, heavy creams, and fatty cuts of meat.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise lowers bad cholesterol and boosts good cholesterol, which reduces plaque buildup in the arteries and improves circulation. Exercise also alleviates the symptoms of diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as stress, which can contribute to hypertension. 

Your NYU Langone doctor can help you create an exercise routine that’s right for you.

Manage Stress

Stress affects your blood pressure by making your heart work harder. Too much daily stress can have long-term—and often negative—effects on your health. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with aortoiliac occlusive disease, your doctor may advise that you sleep eight hours a night, engage in yoga or other exercise, meditate, or, if possible, work fewer hours.

Control Hyperlipidemia

People with hyperlipidemia, a condition in which fats build up in the blood, are at higher risk for developing atherosclerosis. Managing hyperlipidemia is important in preventing aortoiliac occlusive disease. 

Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and increasing your fiber intake, which can help the body absorb cholesterol from your intestines. The doctor may also prescribe medications called statins, which lower levels of cholesterol in the body.

Control Diabetes

People with uncontrolled diabetes are prone to developing plaque in the arteries of the legs. This can lead to inadequate blood flow to the legs and feet, which can in turn hinder the healing of scratches, cracks, or abrasions on the skin. The feet can become enlarged and infected, leading to gangrene, or tissue death. 

Managing diabetes is essential for preventing aortoiliac occlusive disease. NYU Langone specialists teach self-care skills to help you manage the condition. These may include instruction in home glucose monitoring and insulin injections, or referral to NYU Langone’s Weight Management Program.

Our Research and Education in Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.