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What Happens To Untreated Peripheral Artery Disease & When Go to Doctor?

Peripheral Arterial Disease increases the risk of stroke and heart attack is experienced by 1 in 20 Americans.(1)

One in every three patients above 50 with diabetes is likely to have PAD.(2)

Peripheral artery disease is a common type of circulatory problem, where narrowed arteries cause a decrease in the flow of blood to feet and legs. If a person develops this problem, his or her legs and other related extremities, fail to get enough blood supply to retain the demand. This leads to claudication i.e. leg pain at the time of walking and other symptoms. Peripheral artery disease indicates the spread of various fatty deposits in one’s arteries, which is known as atherosclerosis. The condition leads to a decrease in the flow of blood to the brain and heart, along with the legs.(3)

What Happens To Untreated Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease mainly starts whenever plaque i.e. fatty deposits streak or buildup the walls of blood vessels. This causes minor injury to the walls of blood vessels. Now, when the blood vessels attempt to heal on their own, the cells release certain chemicals, which make the walls sticky. Also, a few other substances float through the bloodstream and stick to the walls of blood vessels, like calcium, proteins, and inflammatory cells. The fat and other related substances combine to form atherosclerosis i.e. plaque and it narrows the surrounding arteries.

With time, inner parts of the arteries develop plaques consist of different sizes. Most of the plaque deposits are available as hard substances from outside, while mushy and soft from inside. The hard surface thus tears or cracks to expose the fatty and soft inner contents. Whenever this takes place, platelets come to the respective area and cause blood clots across the plaque. The arteries become narrow further.

In some cases, arteries block completely because of blood clots or plaques, which lodge within narrowed arteries. If this condition takes place, the tissue presents below the blockage suffers permanent damage and causes death i.e. gangrene.(4)

Untreated Peripheral Artery Disease Causes Many Serious Health Conditions

If you leave the condition of peripheral artery disease, you develop severe health problems. These include the following-

  • Stroke i.e. interruption in the flow of blood to your brain
  • Heart attack i.e. permanent damage to the muscles of your heart, which takes place because of the lack in enough blood supply to the heart for an extended period
    TIA i.e. Transient Ischemic Attack i.e. a temporary type of interruption in the supply of blood towards the brain
  • Stenosis or renal artery disease i.e. blockage or narrowing of arteries responsible to supply blood to your kidneys
  • Amputation of the affected limb, in which doctors will remove a part of the entire limb surrounding the affected artery and the problem is common in diabetes patients.(5)

When Go to Doctor For Peripheral Artery Disease?

If you experience leg pain while walking, you should discuss it with your doctor. He will do a few simple tests to identify your problem.

Also, you should discuss and make an appointment of your doctor if you are less than 50 years age and have diabetes with either of the mentioned conditions-

  • You are an overweight person
  • You belong to the African American community
  • You smoke in the past
  • You have a family history related to heart attack, peripheral artery disease or stroke
  • You have high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure

If you are a patient of peripheral artery disease, you should discuss with your doctor timely to get the best possible treatment solutions. This includes certain changes in your chosen lifestyle, new medications, and in some cases, advanced surgery.(6)


To conclude, we should say that peripheral artery disease if left untreated, continues to develop at a slow rate. Moreover, the untreated condition causes many severe health conditions in patients.


Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 14, 2020

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