When the large vessels carrying oxygenated blood have their lumen narrowed due to the accumulation of cholesterol, the blood supply reduces significantly, leading to ischemia of the part involved.
The most commonly affected areas include limbs, majorly the lower limbs. Such a block in the artery of the lower limb may cause difficulty while walking – claudication.
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Peripheral arterial disease is generally caused due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is caused due to fat build-up in the walls of arteries leading to narrowing of arteries and reduction in blood supply.
Atherosclerosis is usually seen in the heart. When the same situation is seen in other body areas, we call it a peripheral arterial disease.
Other reasons for the peripheral arterial disease are less common and include:
- Inflammation of arterial vessel
- Exposure to radiation
- Trauma of vessel
Some risk factors have been known to increase the chances of peripheral arterial disease. These factors can either be avoided or are hereditary.
- Diabetes mellitus
- Age-related issues
The complexity of symptoms depends upon the amount of blood being received by the body part. In critical cases, it may lead to necrosis or gangrene.
Some general symptoms include:-
- Weakness and coldness.
- Change in color.
- Weak or absent pulse.
- In men, it may cause erectile dysfunction.
Initially, it can be treated with changes in lifestyle, which include eating healthy and performing some basic regular exercises, and avoiding junk food, smoking & alcohol. Along with some medications to reduce cholesterol in blood and lifestyle changes, in a few years, the condition can improve.
If the condition is worse, the artery is narrowed to such an extent that the condition cannot be reversed with the help of medication and lifestyle changes. The following surgical procedures are performed:
- Angioplasty: This procedure is minimally invasive. A catheter is used, which travels through the artery and reaches the blocked area. With inflation and deflation of a tiny balloon, the artery is widened and held in place with a stent.
- Endarterectomy: if angioplasty is not possible for an artery, as the plaque is hard. The surgeons open up the artery and clear the plaque.
- Peripheral artery bypass surgery: if the blocked artery is severely blocked, the artery needs to be bypassed using a graft. This graft could be received from any other artery from the body or a synthetic graft.