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How Does Peripheral Artery Disease Affect The Body & What Triggers It?

Peripheral artery disease refers to the narrowing of peripheral arteries, which serve the stomach, legs, head, and arms. Peripheral implies away from one’s heart i.e. in the outer body area. (1)

When you suffer from the problem of peripheral artery disease, the extremities usually the legs fail to receive enough flow of blood to meet the demand. This leads to leg pain and other related symptoms while you walk. (2)

In other words, peripheral artery disease takes place when the plaque builds up within the arteries responsible to carry blood towards the head, limbs, and other organs. Plaque consists of cholesterol, fat, fibrous tissues, calcium, and other substances in your blood. Whenever, plaque forms in the arteries of your body, you suffer from a condition called atherosclerosis. With time, plaque becomes hard to make your arteries narrow. This puts a limit on the flow of blood rich in oxygen to different organs in the body. (3)

How Does Peripheral Artery Disease Affect The Body?

Complications from undiagnosed as well as untreated peripheral artery disease or peripheral vascular disease are serious and sometimes, become life-threatening ones.

Especially, you will have a warning sign in the form of a restricted flow of blood in the case of peripheral diseases. Other complications associated with peripheral artery disease are-

  • Death of tissues, which may result in the amputation of the affected limb
  • Pale skin
  • Problem of impotence
  • Pain with physical movement and at the rest
  • Severe pain, which causes a restriction in the mobility
  • Wounds, which do not heal properly
  • Life-threatening infections in the bloodstream and the bones

Along with this, bringing of blood towards the brain and heart is one of the severe complications related to arteries. Whenever the arteries clog, it may suffer from stroke, heart attack, and death. (4)

What Triggers Peripheral Artery Disease?

The following factors may increase your risk related to the development of peripheral artery disease.

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity, especially when the BMI i.e. Body Mass Index exceeds 30
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Increase in age, especially after you complete 50years age
  • High homocysteine levels i.e. the components of a protein, which helps in building and maintaining tissues
  • Family history related to stroke, heart disease, and peripheral artery disease

Especially, diabetic patients and people involved in smoking activities remain at high risk to develop the problem of peripheral artery disease because of a reduction in blood flow. (5)

Peripheral artery disease mainly takes place because of atherosclerosis. In this condition, plaques or fatty deposits build up on the walls of your artery and in turn, reduce the flow of blood. Atherosclerosis when it takes place in your arteries responsible to supply blood to the limbs, you suffer from peripheral artery disease.

However, in some cases, peripheral artery disease may even take place because of the inflammation of blood vessels, injury to the limbs, and unusual anatomy of the muscles or ligaments. Besides, you can suffer from peripheral artery disease because of the exposure to ultraviolet radiation. (5)


Based on the aforementioned facts we should say that peripheral artery disease might cause mild to severe effects on our body. Especially, the problem takes place often because of atherosclerosis. However, a few other people can have artery disease excluding the reason for atherosclerosis. Along with this, diabetic people and hypertension patients with those involved in smoking activities remain at high risk to suffer from peripheral artery disease.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 6, 2020

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