- by Dr Mamata S.H.
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- Mar 07 2017
What is Arterial Blockage
Blockage of the circulation in the legs is a usual sign of atherosclerosis, or stiffening of the arteries. Approximately 5% of the population over the age of 65 has detectable arterial obstruction in the legs. Inadequate circulation of the legs can also be the consequences of less common causes including aneurysms, the contraction of arteries and dissection or internal splits extending along the length of the artery.
Why do arteries become narrow?
Blocked arteries are also known as Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fibrous and fatty material with in the arteries and is the basic condition that causes coronary heart disease and other circulatory diseases. Atherosclerosis can influence all of the arteries, but precisely those that supply blood to the heart (coronaries), the neck arteries that provide blood to the brain (carotids), and the arteries that provide blood the legs (peripheral). This can eventually bring on symptoms such as chest pain (angina) or can lead to life-threatening conditions like a heart attack or stroke.
What causes atherosclerosis?
Fatty material (or atheroma) starts collecting in the lining of the artery wall from when we are young. It is ‘foreign’ to our bodies, so causes inflammation. The arteries try to clear up the inflammation by fixing the tissue, making a seal of fibrous material over the fatty core.
Over the time, this creates a plaque, which contains the fatty material, the inflammation & the fibrous tissue nearby it. This procedure gradually continues so further atheroma collects, causing more inflammation, which results in a larger plaque. It can take several years before plaque growth has a substantial effect.
How are blocked arteries treated?
Approximately everyone who has had a heart attack or has been diagnosed with angina will be prescribed medication to support them protect their heart. These medicines include aspirin, which decreases the stickiness of platelets to stop blood clots from growing, and drugs to lessen cholesterol, usually statins.
Depending on their particular condition, some people may be prescribed added treatment. For example, if anyone has a heart attack, they are probably be prescribed beta blockers and an ACE inhibitor, as evidence reveals these medicines can lessen the risk of a further heart attack.
Earlier someone has had an event or if they grow symptoms, they will be examined to see if they require further treatment. They might have their neck inspected to see if they have carotid disease, a coronary angiogram to glance at their coronary arteries, or they might have a scan or an angiogram of their legs to see at the extent of their leg disease.
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