What is Peripheral Artery Disease: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease is a circulatory disease in which the blood flow is blocked to the brain, limbs and organs due to the narrowing of arteries. It might occur because of the deposition of plaque consisting of cholesterol, calcium along with fibrous tissues.

The onset of peripheral artery disease is accompanied by the pain in legs because the blood supply is constricted. It also results in a shooting pain in the legs while walking. The symptom is defined as intermittent claudication.

What is Peripheral Artery Disease

As the fat accumulates in the arteries, it progressively slows the blood supply to the heart, brain, and legs. One should stop being a smoker and do exercise on a regular basis. Moreover healthy diet is necessary to get sterling results.

If the blood supply to the leg is reduced, it might result in pain followed by numbness and even infections that refuse to heal. The body cannot fight against the disease because of the deficient blood flow.

Lack of blood supply may also lead to gangrene in the legs. It is considered as the death of the tissues resulting in the amputation of the affected limb.

If you are experiencing pain while walking, contact the doctor immediately to rule out peripheral artery disease. People mistakenly think that they are suffering from old age however it might be due to peripheral artery disease. Further testing and diagnose would reveal the results in detail.

Smoking is the primary reason of peripheral artery disease nevertheless aging accompanied by another disease could also be secondary causes.

What are the Causes of Peripheral Artery Disease?

Formation of plaque is the major cause of peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease is the culmination of the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. The plaque is predominantly made of fat and the condition is called atherosclerosis. It has a detrimental effect on the blood supply.

It is a well-known fact that congestion in arteries causes damage to the heart but it also affects the other organs of the body. When the blood supply to the limbs is constricted, it results in peripheral artery disease syndrome. Sometime over exposure to radiation limb injury or even the inflammation of the numerous blood vessels might cause peripheral artery disease.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease?

Patients with peripheral artery disease do not reveal any signs and symptom but they feel pain in legs while walking. The symptom is known as intermittent claudication and is caused by physical activity. During rest, it completely disappears. Generally arteries in the calf muscles tend to get clogged, therefore, people suffer from the pain in the specific area. Pain could be mild or may increase to greater proportions. Peripheral artery disease signs and symptoms include:

  • Cramping pain can occur in thighs, legs and calf while walking or climbing stairs.
  • Severe weakness in the hind limb.
  • The foot seems to be colder as compared to other parts of the body.
  • Infection in toes and feet that refuse to go away.
  • Legs can display unique color.
  • Loss of hair could be reported on the feet and leg.
  • Toenails may take a longer time to grow.
  • Patients have reported skin to be too shiny on the legs.
  • The pulse in the leg would be too weak to feel to.
  • The problem with erection in males.

With the gradual progression of peripheral artery disease, the symptoms worsen. Later on, the pain might occur even while resting. It may also cause insomnia in the patient. While sleeping, one needs to hang the leg from the edges of the bed to get temporary relief.

You should immediately contact the doctor if there is a severe leg pain accompanied by numbness. Symptoms should not be taken lightly. Patients should be screened periodically:

  • After 70 years of age.
  • Diabetic individuals over 50 years.
  • People who are under 50 with vulnerability to peripheral artery disease and high blood pressure.

What Tests are Conducted to Diagnose Peripheral Artery Disease?

The tests that help to establish the occurrence of peripheral artery disease is as follows:

  • Physical exam to diagnose peripheral artery disease: Weak pulse in the artery near the affected region is the primary symptom of the disease. The medical consultant may listen to the whooshing sounds emanating from the arteries with the help of a stethoscope. In addition, the wounds that refuse to heal are also signs that the person is suffering from peripheral artery disease. The constricted blood flow to the legs can cause such issues.
  • Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) Test to diagnose peripheral artery disease: The blood pressure on the hand and the forelimbs are evaluated separately by the doctor. To accomplish the task, the blood pressure machine along with the ultrasound gadget is used to examine the critical parameters including the blood flow. The patient has to run on the treadmill to measure the intensity of the clogged arteries before and after the physical activity.
  • Ultrasound exam to diagnose peripheral artery disease: Doppler ultrasound goes a long way in examining the degree of the blockage of the arteries.
  • Angiography test to diagnose peripheral artery disease: A dye is introduced into the body and the doctors examine the path through the blood to detect the intensity of the congestion in arteries. As the contrast materials slip into the blood stream, the X-ray imaging technique is used to evaluate the tests. Another process includes the insertion of the catheter into the artery so that it is transferred to the infected area. Once the spot is detected, the specialists can widen it with the help of the angioplasty process in an impeccable manner. It goes a long way in enhancing the blood flow.
  • Blood tests to diagnose peripheral artery disease: The level of the cholesterol along with triglycerides is checked.

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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:April 4, 2018

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