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The Best Sleeping Positions for Managing Peripheral Artery Disease

The Best Sleeping Positions for Managing Peripheral Artery Disease

May 20, 2024 | Blog

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. This means that the legs of patients with PAD don’t receive enough blood flow. PAD is typically caused by atherosclerosis and can be managed through lifestyle changes, medication, and sometimes surgery. New treatments for PAD include medications like Rivaroxaban, Naftidrofuryl Oxalate, Cilostazol, and Pentoxifylline. 

Patients with PAD need proper sleep as it helps the body repair itself and maintain essential functions, including circulation. Poor sleep can exacerbate symptoms of PAD such as pain and cramping, which can interrupt sleep, creating a vicious cycle.

At CACVI, we have a team of PAD specialists, with over thirty years of expertise performing vascular and cardiac procedures under their belts. Our goal is to ensure we give patients the best care that improves quality of their life and promotes quick healing. Contact us today for a Peripheral Vascular Disease Evaluation.

 In this blog, we will explore the best sleeping positions for managing PAD. We will also give detailed information about PAD and sleeping positions to avoid for those who have PAD.

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a common circulatory and vascular condition that deals with narrowed arteries, restricting blood flow. Symptoms of PAD include leg pain when walking (claudication), coldness in the lower legs or feet, a noticeable decrease in the growth of hair on the legs, and a weak pulse in the limbs.

The primary cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, but other risk factors like smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, age, and family history of heart disease, also contribute to its development. Lifestyle factors like a lack of regular exercise and a poor diet can also increase the risk.

When to Seek Professional Care for PAD?

You should seek professional care for PAD if you experience noticeable symptoms like pains while walking or climbing stairs. It is also a cause for concern if you notice other symptoms like slower growth of hair on your legs, coldness in the lower leg or foot, or leg numbness. 

There are also severe symptoms like acute limb ischemia, critical limb ischemia, arterial leg ulcers, or venous insufficiency leg ulcers. These conditions require immediate medical intervention and can lead to severe complications if left untreated. 

At CACVI, we run an advanced cardiac and vascular center that offers a range of services from diagnostics to innovative solutions for blocked veins in legs. Reach out to us today. Let’s discuss how we can give you relief!

How to treat PAD?

How to treat PAD?

Diagnosing peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as peripheral vascular disease, involves a combination of clinical evaluation and specific tests. It starts with the doctor doing a physical examination for weak pulses in the legs. Then, an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test will be done where blood pressure in the ankles is compared to the blood pressure in the arms. The next step would be to do imaging tests to help visualize blood flow in the arteries and pinpoint any narrowed or blocked arteries. Then, a peripheral angiogram/plasty test will also be carried out to identify specific locations of a narrowed or blocked artery.

Treatment options for PAD usually aim to manage symptoms and prevent further progression of the disease. It could be through lifestyle changes like regular exercise or maintaining a healthy diet. A doctor may also prescribe medications to improve blood flow, manage pain, and control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Peripheral angioplasty is also a treatment for PAD. This minimally invasive procedure involves a small balloon inserted into a narrowed artery and inflated to open up the artery. In more severe cases, a stent may be placed to keep an artery open, or bypass surgery may be performed to route blood around a blocked artery. The doctor may also carry out varicose vein treatment to enhance blood flow in the legs. 

Under the expertise of specialists like Dr. Moinakhtar Lala, CACVI provides cutting-edge treatments such as peripheral angioplasty and varicose vein treatments, venography, etc. Our goal is to ensure that we are delivering a comprehensive treatment for PAD patients. 

What is The Connection Between Sleep and PAD

What is The Connection Between Sleep and PAD

A good night’s sleep is vital for overall health, particularly for circulatory health. During sleep, the body goes through various restorative processes that help regulate blood pressure, improve heart function, and maintain healthy blood vessels. 

Individuals with PAD often face unique sleep challenges like restless leg syndrome, leg pain, and discomfort. When the PAD condition gets worse, it can lead to critical limb ischemia. 

For PAD patients, you have to be conscious of your sleeping position. Choosing the right sleeping position helps reduce discomfort and improve blood circulation. 

How Does Gravity Affect Blood Circulation?

Gravity affects blood circulation as it impedes blood flow back to the heart from the lower parts of the body. It particularly affects PAD patients who already struggle with narrowed or blocked arteries. 

Similarly, pressure points occur when the body’s weight rests against the surface of the bed. This can compress blood vessels and restrict blood flow. Using supportive mattresses and cushions can help distribute body weight more evenly and reduce the impact of pressure points. Thus, assisting in smoother blood flow and reducing pain.

Best sleeping Position for Peripheral Artery Disease

Best sleeping Position for Peripheral Artery Disease

The right sleep position can help alleviate PAD symptoms by improving blood circulation, especially during the night when prolonged inactivity can cause discomfort.

Is A Elevated Leg Position A Good Sleeping Position For PAD?

Elevating the legs can help the veins and arteries circulate blood more efficiently back to the heart. This position utilizes gravity to help reduce swelling and improve oxygen and nutrient delivery to the tissues of the lower limbs.

To effectively elevate your legs, use pillows or a foam wedge under your knees and ankles to keep them higher than your heart. However, ensure that the elevation is comfortable. Being too high may cause back discomfort, and too low may be ineffective. 

Is the Left Lateral Position (Sleeping on the Left Side) A good Sleeping Position for PAD?

Yes, sleeping on the left side is one of the best sleeping positions for anyone with PAD. Sleeping on the left side can benefit the heart and circulation by reducing the pressure on the heart and enabling it to pump blood more efficiently. 

While sleeping on the left side, place a pillow between your knees to align your hips properly. This helps to reduce stress on your back. A supportive mattress can also help maintain proper spine alignment while facilitating better circulation.

Is A Back Position With Supported Legs A Good Sleeping Position for PAD?

Sleeping on your back with legs supported can help align the spine and circulatory system. This reduces pressure points and enhances blood flow through the arteries and veins.

While sleeping on your back, it is best to use a specially designed leg pillow or a rolled-up towel under your knees to support and slightly elevate your legs. An adjustable bed can also be very effective as it allows for easy adjustment of leg elevation throughout the night.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid if you have Peripheral Artery Disease

Sleeping Positions to Avoid if you have Peripheral Artery Disease

If you have peripheral artery disease, you should avoid sleeping on your right side. When you sleep on your right side, you are putting pressure on your internal organs and potentially increasing the load on the heart. The compression could restrict blood flow in the already narrowed or blocked arteries, leading to decreased oxygen supply to the legs and increasing symptoms like leg pains or cramps. 

It is also dangerous to lie flat on the back with support. Lying flat on your back without any leg support can lead to the pooling of blood in the veins of the legs. This position does not aid the heart in pumping blood effectively against gravity, which is crucial for PAD patients where blood flow is already compromised. Supporting the legs can help maintain proper circulation, reduce the risk of swelling, and decrease discomfort associated with PAD.

Does Sleeping badly with PAD increase pain?

Yes, sleeping poorly can increase pain for individuals with peripheral artery disease (PAD). When blood flow is restricted, tissues in the legs do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients. This leads to increased pain and discomfort, especially noticeable at night or after waking.

How to Sleep Better if you have PAD Peripheral Artery Disease?

How to Sleep Better if you have PAD Peripheral Artery Disease?

Engaging in regular physical activity such as walking or light aerobic exercises can help improve blood circulation and overall vascular health. Exercise can also aid in managing pain and discomfort associated with PAD by promoting blood flow to the limbs.

Furthermore, a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce inflammation and build-up in the arteries to support better circulation. It is advisable to limit salt, fat, and cholesterol when managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, especially for individuals with PAD.

Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea can exacerbate PAD symptoms and interfere with sleep. Managing these conditions with proper medical guidance is important for improving sleep quality and reducing PAD-related discomfort.

If sleep problems persist despite trying various strategies, or if pain and discomfort are affecting your quality of life, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide tailored advice and treatment options to help manage symptoms and improve sleep.

Does Investing in quality pillows and mattresses help with PAD?

Investing in quality pillows and mattresses can help individuals with PAD. A good mattress that supports proper alignment can enhance comfort and improve circulation during sleep. Quality pillows can be used to elevate the legs to improve venous return and decrease the symptoms of PAD such as swelling and leg pain. Additionally, an adjustable bed can be particularly beneficial as it allows for easy adjustment of sleeping positions to optimize blood flow.

What are some dangers of sleeping in a bad position if you have PAD?

What are some dangers of sleeping in a bad position if you have PAD?

For individuals with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), choosing the right sleeping position is not just about comfort; it’s crucial for preventing serious complications. Sleeping in a bad position leads to an increased risk of acute limb ischemia, enhanced pain and discomfort, and worsening of circulatory problems. 

Sleeping in positions that restrict blood flow for prolonged periods can also lead to the development of varicose veins and venous insufficiency. Additionally, it increases the risk of pressure sores and worsens other health conditions. 

Need a PAD Diagnosis?

Keeping your legs elevated while sleeping can help improve blood circulation, reducing symptoms like leg pain and swelling. It is also helpful to sleep on your back with supported legs. However, avoid sleeping on your right side as it can put additional pressure on your organs and blood vessels. 

Every individual’s condition is unique, so experimenting with different sleeping positions can be key to finding the most comfortable and effective setup. Furthermore, adjusting the type and placement of pillows or considering an adjustable bed may be beneficial.

If you suspect you have PAD or need more specialized care, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at CACVI. We run a top Center for Advanced Cardiac and Vascular Interventions in LA and offer a range of peripheral procedures that can help manage and treat PAD effectively. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing PAD and improving your quality of life.


If you were told you need an amputation, get a second opinion! We are board certified consultants in endovascular interventions committed to improving the quality of your life and the lives of those you love!

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