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Peripheral Arterial Disease Fact sheet

Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different types of chemicals. Every time you inhale tobacco smoke, many of these chemicals enter your blood stream and are carried around your body.

These chemicals make the walls of blood vessels (arteries) harden and they make blood cells sticky, which allows cholesterol and other dangerous fatty material to build up inside the arteries.

This build-up starts to clog the arteries and, together with the hardened artery walls, makes it more difficult for blood to flow through, especially when a greater blood flow is needed, for example during exercise. This can lead to a condition known as Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Another term is Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD).

Did you know…

  • Gangrene always leads to amputation
  • Smoking is one of the main causes of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).
  • Smoking is responsible for at least half of the cases of PAD affecting the lower limbs.
  • More than 500 Australians die every year from PAD caused by their smoking.
  • In Australia, more than 10,000 hospital admissions for treatment of PAD are due to smoking.
  • Every year, around 600 amputations are performed on people with PAD.
  • More than one person a day in Australia suffers the loss of a leg or foot because they smoked.