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Peripheral Arterial Disease & Its Burden Or Leg Attack!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Pravin Narkhede 90% (118 ratings)
MBBS, DNB - Peripheral Vascular Surgery, DNB - General Surgery, MNAMS
Vascular Surgeon, Nashik  •  12 years experience
Peripheral Arterial Disease & Its Burden Or Leg Attack!

The peripheral arterial disease is a circulatory disorder which affects the legs. It constricts the arteries and restricts the flow of blood to the legs. The peripheral arterial disorder is also linked to the deposit of excess fats along the walls of the arteries which clogs them up. Sometimes, it can be triggered by inflammation of the blood vessels caused by an injury.

What are the symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease?

The intensity of the symptoms varies from person to person. But if you suffer from the peripheral arterial disorder, these are the symptoms you need to look out for:

  • Cramps in one or both hips, calf muscles or along the thighs
  • Pain in the legs when you are climbing stairs or bending to pick something up
  • A feeling of coldness in one or both legs
  • A discolouration of the skin of the legs
  • Sores on your feet or soles
  • Erectile dysfunction (in men)

You should waste no time in consulting a doctor if you are over the age of 65 when you start witnessing these symptoms or if you are diabetic. The risk of getting peripheral arterial disorder goes up in people:

What are the risks associated with Peripheral Arterial Disease?

If the peripheral arterial disease is left untreated, a host of other complications may arise, some of them fatal-

  • Critical limb ischemia: wounds or sores on your feet or legs do not heal and fester. The open wounds become infected which spread and causes tissue death (gangrene).
  • Stroke or heart attack: if the arteries of your legs are blocked, it's quite possible that those of your heart might be as well. When this happens, the risk of stroke or heart attack goes up significantly.
  • The debilitating pain can inhibit your everyday activities
  • Sometimes peripheral arterial disorder can lead to bone and blood infection which can prove to be lethal.

Prevention of Peripheral Arterial Disease:

You can do the following if you want to ward off peripheral arterial disease-

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet comprising green vegetables, whole grains, fruits, dairy and lean meat.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control

Treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease-

There is no treatment that can cure peripheral arterial disease. Medication aims to manage and control the effects of the disease. Your doctor may prescribe-

  • Cholesterol-lowering medicines to keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart attack or strokes
  • High blood pressure medicine because by affecting the arteries of the heart, peripheral arterial disease messes up your blood pressure
  • Medicine for diabetes because if you have diabetes as it can exacerbate your leg pain
  • Medicines to prevent blood clots from forming

Surgery for Peripheral Arterial Disease-

If medication does not work, you might need surgery. Some surgery options are-

  • Angioplasty: A catheter is inserted into the blood vessel, the blockage is flattened and the blood flow is restored
  • Bypass surgery: The doctor will graft a bypass using a blood vessel from another part of your body to allow blood to flow around the clogged artery.
  • Thrombolytic therapy: The doctor injects a drug that dissolves the clot.

Peripheral arterial disease can be life-threatening. But with proper lifestyle choices and medication, its effects can be controlled.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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