An Overview of the Peripheral Arterial Disease of the Legs

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by inju


One of the most common problems of the circulatory system is peripheral arterial disease.  In this condition, the arteries carrying blood to your limbs become narrowed and therefore limit blood supply to your extremities particularly your legs.  You will recognize this when you feel a remarkable pain while walking or when you experience a painful cramp which may last up to 5 or 10 minutes.


Although the pain may just be felt in the legs, this still should serve as a warning sign that there may be more extensive and prevalent build up of fatty deposits in your arteries.  This is called atherosclerosis.  Most often known as the hardening of the arteries, this disorder is the result of fat, cholesterol, and other substances formation in the walls of arteries that later turn into formed structures called plaques.  As these plaques cultivate, they constrict the arteries making them narrow and rigid, thus obstructing regular blood flow. Additionally, with plaque build up in shallow arteries, there is also a high possibility of clot configuration that can split into smaller pieces and move in to the smaller blood vessels and again, create an obstruction.  Such occurrence will not only affect blood delivery to the heart and brain but also to your legs.


Peripheral Arterial Disease of the Legs


Most of the time you would think that you’re having difficulties in walking because of simple muscle aches in the legs.  But what if you were wrong?  What if there is a problem in the blood circulation in your legs?


About 8 million Americans share your complaints.  PAD is the culprit that limits blood flow to the muscles in your legs.  You might not be alarmed of the situation thinking it’s nothing but a cramp, but for your information, this disorder means that you might be having atherosclerosis somewhere in your other primary arteries.  And this, atherosclerosis is the same condition responsible for cases of heart attacks and strokes.


Risk Factors and Symptoms


Like in most diseases, the risk factors for PAD are also high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, heavy smoking, and lack of activities and exercise.  These contribute to the building of plaques which are made of cholesterol.


As mentioned, as the arteries narrow, the leg muscles receive insufficient blood to make them work.  However, it is important to know that not just in the legs, other arteries might as well be blocked and then be affected.  Those arteries in the buttocks and hips, thigh, calf and foot might also receive some pain.  In some cases, there may be no pain at all, rather a burning or numbed feeling takes place, or sometimes, there is nothing at all.


Moreover, other signs of PAD may also include wounds that take time to heal; legs feel cooler as compared to the arms, hair loss in the legs, and reduced pulses in the feet.


Once you feel these symptoms, you can see a doctor and be examined.  Diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease of the legs may be conducted with the help of ankle-brachial index (ABI) which is like an ultrasound for the ankle.  Also, for worse-case scenario, an angiogram can aid in detecting the accurate position of the blockage.

We can provide you with all the information and health preventive measures you need regarding peripheral arterial disease when you visit our site now!

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