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Peripheral Artery Disease – Causes and Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease


Peripheral artery disease

is a medical condition related to circulatory system. In this condition, the arteries become narrow reducing the flow of blood to the limbs. Usually the extremities like legs are affected the most as they do not receive enough blood. This leads to leg pain especially while walking.

Peripheral artery disease

is also one of the sign of atherosclerosis condition (accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries). This even causes reduced blood flow in the heart and brain. The

causes and symptoms of peripheral artery disease

are discussed in the following article.

Causes of Peripheral Artery Disease

The main cause of peripheral artery disease is atherosclerosis. This is a condition in which there is accumulation of fatty deposits in the walls of the arteries that reduce flow of the blood. If this condition affects the arteries present in the limbs, then it leads to peripheral artery disease.

There are certain other causes of peripheral artery disease, but are less common. They include:

  • Limb injury
  • Blood vessel inflammation
  • Abnormal anatomy of muscles and ligaments
  • Exposure to radiations

Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease

There are certain factors that increase the risk of peripheral artery disease. They include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol levels (total cholesterol levels above 240 ml/dL or 6.2 mm/L)
  • High blood pressure (equal or higher than 140/90 millimeters)
  • Obesity (body mass index above 30)
  • Excess homocysteine levels (protein that maintains and build tissue)
  • Family history of heart stroke, attack or peripheral artery disease
  • Increasing age after 50 years

Diabetics and smokers are at greater risk of peripheral artery disease because the flow of blood in their body system is reduced.

Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease

Most of the people experience mild or no symptoms, but some experience leg pain during walking. This is called intermittent claudication.

The symptoms of intermittent claudication include cramping and muscle pains in legs and arms that usually happen while performing any activity such as walking. But these symptoms disappear when a complete rest is taken. The pain occurs at the region where there is narrowed or clogged artery. Calf pain is common in this disease. The symptoms vary from mild discomfort to severe irritating pain. It does not allow a person to perform any physical activity.

The common symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:

  • Leg weakness or numbness
  • Painful cramping in the calf, thigh and hip muscles after any activity like climbing stairs or walking
  • Sore formation on the legs, feet or toes
  • Coldness in the foot or lower leg
  • Reduced hair growth or hair loss in legs and feet
  • Change in the color of the legs
  • Skin becomes shiny on the legs
  • Slow growth of toenails
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Weak pulse or no pulse in the feet or legs

As the peripheral artery disease progresses, the pain becomes more severe even when you are lying down or at rest. The pain is so intense that it disturbs sleep. You can find temporary relief from the pain when you hang your legs over the bed edge or walk for sometime.

When to consult a physician?

If you suffer from numbness or pain in legs or any other above mentioned symptoms, do not neglect them by thinking those symptoms as a part of aging process. It can be due to peripheral artery disease also. Consult your physician immediately and get the condition diagnosed. Even if you do not experience these symptoms, you should go for a checkup if you:

  • Are above the age 70
  • Are above the age 70 and have a family history of smoking or diabetes
  • Are below the age 50, but still have diabetes or any other risk factors like high blood pressure or obesity

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