It is a common circulatory problem that causes reduced blood flow in the vessels of the extra-cardiac organs (kidney, intestine, arm, leg and brain, etc.) due to narrowed arteries. Peripheral artery disease often results from atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, fat deposits (plaque) form on the artery walls and blood flow decreases. Although atherosclerosis is a problem that usually focuses on the heart, the disease can also affect other arteries in the body. Peripheral artery disease occurs when atherosclerosis occurs in the arteries that supply blood to the limbs.
Peripheral artery disease can be seen in all organs except the heart, but it usually develops in the leg veins. In this case, sufficient blood flow is not provided to the area in question and there is pain in the legs, especially when walking. Due to the lack of sufficient blood flow in other organs, symptoms such as dizziness, abdominal pain, arm pain and resistant hypertension may occur.
Many people with peripheral artery disease may experience very mild symptoms. Sometimes they may even feel nothing.
Since peripheral artery disease is most common in the leg veins, muscle pain or cramping can occur in the legs while walking. These symptoms are triggered by an activity such as walking, but disappear after a few minutes of rest. The location of the pain may vary depending on the location of the occluded or narrowed artery. The most common area is the calves. If there is severe and widespread vascular occlusion, wounds and gangrene that develop in the toes and cannot be healed are among the findings.
Peripheral artery disease signs and symptoms can be summarized as follows.
Painful cramps in one or both hip, thigh, or calf muscles after certain activities such as walking or climbing stairs
Numbness and weakness in the legs
Coldness in the lower leg or foot compared to other sides
Slower growth of toenails, hair loss
Shiny skin on the legs
Weak or no pulse in the legs or feet
Non-healing wounds on the feet
When peripheral artery disease progresses, there may be pain at rest (ischemic rest pain). This pain may be severe enough to wake the patient from sleep.
If you have leg pain, numbness, or other symptoms, don’t see them as part of normal aging. Call your doctor and make an appointment.
Even if you do not have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, we recommend that you go for a checkup if you belong to one of the following groups.
Being over the age of 65
Being over the age of 50 and having a history of diabetes or smoking
Having diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors such as obesity or high blood pressure despite being under the age of 50
Factors that increase the risk of developing peripheral artery disease include:
Obesity (If body mass index is more than 30)
Being over the age of 50
Having a family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease, or stroke
If you are in any of the groups listed above, consult your doctor about peripheral artery disease.
Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment
The most important treatment in peripheral artery disease is to eliminate risk factors. Good treatment of diseases such as smoking cessation, exercise, hyperlipidemia, hypertension and diabetes is the basis of prevention and treatment of peripheral artery disease.
If peripheral artery disease is advanced enough to reduce the quality of life or cause organ function loss, endovascular interventions can be performed on the relevant vessels. Endovascular interventions are the operations of expansion with balloons or stents in areas with stenosis and occlusion in the vessels. With these enlargement procedures, blood flow comes to effective levels and complaints or organ dysfunctions are eliminated. Such procedures can be applied to all vessels and patients suitable for the procedure by experienced doctors. It is among other treatment options in surgical treatments. In peripheral artery disease surgery, an alternative route to blood flow is created by using artificial or natural vessels between the diseased vessels before and after the problematic area, so that organ blood supply can be provided.