Peripheral arterial disease refers to a circulatory problem that is caused by insufficient blood flow to the limbs due to the narrowing of arteries. This disease usually affects the legs.
The most common cause of peripheral arterial disease is atherosclerosis, a condition that results from the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries. Although it is often associated with heart disease, atherosclerosis can affect arteries in many parts of the body as well. When it affects arteries that supply blood to the limbs, it leads to peripheral arterial disease. Although less commonly, peripheral arterial disease can also be caused by injury to the limbs, blood vessel inflammation, unusual anatomy of muscles and ligaments, or exposure to radiation.
There are a number of factors that can raise the risk of peripheral arterial disease, and they include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high levels of homocysteine, obesity, smoking, age, and a family history of peripheral arterial disease, cardiovascular disease, or stroke. Smoking and diabetes are the greatest risk factors for peripheral arterial disease because they can reduce blood flow.
Common symptoms of peripheral arterial disease include:
In our next post, we will talk about the diagnosis, treatment, and management of peripheral arterial disease.