PAD (peripheral arterial disease) is a thickening of the arteries that affects blood flow, and can cause people to experience painful leg cramps, especially when walking or exercising. While we don’t know why, African Americans are nearly twice as likely to be affected by PAD as compared to non-Hispanic Whites. While this statistic is scary, there’s a new warning out that may increase this population’s risk levels even more.
Smoking and PAD Risks
According to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, smoking (a known risk factor for PAD) disproportionately raises the risk levels in the African American population. In this study, researchers followed 5300 participants between the ages of 21 and 84. Of those participants, 13% were current smokers and 19% were former smokers.
Researchers found that current smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers to have PAD in their lower extremities. They were also eight times as likely to have calcium buildups in the aorta. And how much you smoked matters too: the more cigarettes a participant had smoked each day, the worse off their arterial health.
In the wake of this study, Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, says: “The findings from this study give us strong evidence of the specific debilitating and life-threatening risks African American smokers face, especially the more they smoke. This type of research can be useful in the development of clear messages targeted to our African American population to underscore the real physical costs of tobacco product use.”