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Waiting Until It’s Too Late

senior man unable to walk due to peripheral artery disease. the effects of smoking

If you’ve ever heard about the effects of smoking, you probably know how bad for your health it can be. At USA Vascular Centers, we think its important that our patients understand the value of their health and want to emphasize the importance of making healthy choices. Read Bradley’s stories and learn about the true effects of smoking.

There once was a man know as Bradley. He was 53-years-old and was living with type-2 diabetes. Bradley had a loving wife of 15 years with whom he had three beautiful daughters. Bradley also had a well-rounded group of friends that he would see for weekly poker or the annual fishing trip. He spent eight years working in the IT department for a corporate consulting firm where he made a healthy salary. His mortgage and car were paid off, and he was in the homestretch to retirement. Although he didn’t particularly love his job, he was making good enough money to support his family and live a stable, and simple life.

Unhealthy Habits: The Effects of Smoking

Bradley’s life might sound great, but he was overall unhealthy, often overwhelmed, and under the surface, he was deeply unhappy. Trying to manage all of the things in his life like kids, work, marriage, and bills, made him chronically exhausted, and some days it was too much to handle. To cope with these feelings of stress and exhaustion, Bradley would smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol frequently. He never really cared about negative effects of smoking. Out of fear of worrying his family, he kept all of these feelings to himself, internalizing his pain and silently making his body pay the price.

Bradley’s job was another negative contributor to his health because it required him to sit at a desk for long hours. Add that to another two hours of sitting during his commute and Bradley became very inactive. By the weekend, he grew stressed thinking about the impending tasks of the upcoming week, believing that he would never get a chance to catch up. Bradley, like many of us, felt like there was never enough hours in the day, and he often grew very frustrated trying to chip away at what felt like an eternal list of to-dos.

Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms

Like many people, Bradley was in denial about his poor behavior and lifestyle. He thought he must have been doing pretty well because he wasn’t noticeably unhealthy. However, in the back of his mind, Bradley knew that what he was doing to his body was not good or healthy by any means. Bradley had this perspective about his life that made him think he was invincible from the many health issues that plagued so many of his friends and coworkers. However, the effects of Bradley’s poor diet and smoking habit unfortunately began to catch up to him, and caused him to develop abnormally high cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Bradley convinced himself that this was just part of “getting old” and decided to ignore these cautionary signs, going about his life business as usual.

Even though Bradley wanted to quit and was constantly reminded about the impacts of smoking on the body by his friends and family, he didn’t listen. By this time, the nicotine had full control and he was also experiencing the emotional impacts of smoking. When he tried to quit, he would convince himself that he was already doing damage to his body, so why does it matter now. These harmful, negative thoughts were being controlled by his addiction.

The Beginning Signs

Only three months after Bradley developed the high cholesterol and high blood pressure, he started experiencing pain in his hips and thighs. These are just some of the effects of smoking. He convinced himself the pain was a result of sitting too long at work and thought nothing of it. Soon after, he noticed he was less agile and that his legs felt numb and weak. Bradley struggled more every day completing simple activities like getting out of a car or putting on shoes. His wife started to catch on and pestered him to quit smoking, as she innocently thought it must the cause of his discomfort. Although the symptoms were inconvenient, Bradley wasn’t alarmed by what he had been experiencing. He was in the second half of his life and never expected his body to be as healthy as it was during his 20s and 30s.

Bradley didn’t get worried by any of the things he was experiencing until he noticed that his left foot appeared a dark purple, almost black color. He knew that he was at a higher risk for certain conditions because of his diabetes, yet he never really took the time to learn about how it  could impact his long-term health. Like many other diabetics in America, he believed that diabetes was only related to managing sugar levels in his blood, and that it couldn’t have a very serious effect on his body.

Ignored His Symptoms for Too Long

When he was arriving at the hospital, the nurses were shocked that he was still able to walk. He met with his doctor, and after having his leg and blood pressure examined, Bradley learned that he developed a condition called Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). The doctor explained to Bradley that because of his diabetes, he was at high risk of getting PAD. Also, because he continued to smoke, eat unhealthy foods, and avoid exercise, his risk increased significantly to the point of being inevitable. The doctor explained to Bradley that his PAD was a result of fatty plaque build-up in his arteries.

Unfortunately for Bradley, his PAD had advanced to its final and most serious stage, and Bradley’s doctor was left with no choice but to amputate the leg from above his knee. Shocked and confused, Bradley wondered how something so serious could have happened to him with no warning. Sitting in the exam chair, Bradley began to recall all the signs he had ignored over the past few months and began to feel the weight of his recent decisions. His doctor revealed to him that the amputation could have easily been prevented if he would have maintained a healthy lifestyle. Bradley was disappointed and regretful when he learned that the testing method for PAD is actually very quick and simple, he became enraged that he would lose his leg as a result of his own negligence.

Long-Term Impacts of Smoking on the Body

After Bradley lost his leg to PAD, his life was never the same. He lost a lot of his independence and would need someone to help him do very simple activities. Bradley had to quit his job because he was unable to drive a car to get to work which then caused him to feel depressed and unmotivated.

Although the story of Bradley is upsetting, it’s very important to understand how serious PAD can be, especially for men over the age of 50 that smoke and have diabetes. If you resonated with this story because it’s similar to something you are currently experiencing, consult with your doctor immediately.

Don’t end up like Bradley. If you are a male over 50, smoke, have diabetes, are overweight, or have a family history of PAD, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation with one of our vascular specialists to get tested. Even if you think you are not at risk, it’s still important to get tested just to be sure. The consequences of neglecting treatment can be grave, and you don’t want to end up like Bradley.

Call us at 888.773.2193 to set up your consultation, or if you don’t feel like calling, you can click here to schedule your appointment online.


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