Arterial occlusive disease is a condition in which the arteries throughout the body gradually become narrowed. It can affect arms and legs. Often, patients who suffer from lower extremity arterial occlusive disease also have other conditions, such as carotid artery disease and heart disease. The condition is associated with significant morbidity and mortality.
The major risk factors for arterial occlusive disease are age, high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood), high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and a history of plaque build-up in the arteries. Men are more likely than women to develop arterial occlusive disease.
The symptoms of arterial occlusive disease are caused by the impaired blood flow to the patient’s limbs. Symptoms may occur suddenly or gradually develop over a period of time.
The most common symptoms are intermittent muscle pain and cramps, a continuous burning pain in the leg, numbness and pain caused by nerve damage, chest pain, high blood pressure and symptoms related to stroke.
To be diagnosed, you will undergo a physical examination. In addition, there are imaging techniques that can be used to aid diagnosis, such as CT, MRI and ultrasound. You may also undergo other tests, such as blood tests.
In some cases, patients may have to undergo specific procedures to relieve the narrowing of the artery and restore blood flow. Where feasible, minimally invasive approaches have become the preferred treatment options. These include percutaneous transluminal angioplasty and stenting.
However, if the disease is advanced, surgery may be necessary in order to restore blood flow.