Smokers are four times as likely to lose a limb due to peripheral artery disease (PAD) than nonsmokers, according to the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA), Knoxville, Tenn.

“Smoking is the number one risk factor for peripheral vascular disease (PVD),” said Scott Stevens, ACA board member, professor of surgery at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and director of its endovascular program. “The toxic chemicals in tobacco travel through the blood stream resulting in the build-up of dangerous plaque, which prevents adequate circulation.

"Tobacco use is responsible for at least half of the cases of PAD affecting the lower limbs," he added. "The severity of PVD increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and increases the risk for amputation.” Smoking can also lead to stroke, decreased mobility and stamina, weaker bones, and recent research shows it also increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The Coalition urges smokers to participate in the Great American Smokeout on November 18 and to make a plan to quit.

To read more on the damaging effects of smoking and strategies for quitting, see Thank You for Not Smoking, by Christina Skoski, MD,  for ACA’s  inMotion magazine.

[Source: ACA]