Peripheral artery disease involves constriction of the peripheral arteries to the stomach, legs, arms and head. Generally, the arteries in the legs are typically affected.
The usual indications of peripheral artery disease involving the lower extremities include pain, cramping or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while climbing stairs or walking. Generally, the pain settles with rest and recurs when walking again.
Those with the condition are prone to develop coronary artery disease, stroke or heart attack. If not properly treated, the condition can lead to gangrene and even amputation.
Risk factors for peripheral artery disease
- If an individual is smoking, one is at higher risk for peripheral artery disease.
- High blood pressure or high cholesterol
Is there is a link with atherosclerosis?
Always bear in mind that atherosclerosis involves the buildup of plaque in the arterial wall. Peripheral artery disease is generally brought about by atherosclerosis affecting the peripheral arteries.
The plaque that forms is usually made of cholesterol, fats and other substances. The formation of plaque can grow large enough to drastically reduce the flow of blood via an artery. Once a plaque becomes inflamed or brittle, there is a tendency for it to rupture and trigger a blood clot to form. The clot might either further constrict the artery or totally block it.
In case an obstruction is still present in the peripheral arteries in the legs, it might trigger pain, formation of sores and ulcers, skin color changes and issues with walking. Complete loss of circulation in the legs and feet can result to gangrene and loss of a limb.