Vascular Disease A-Z

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Hardening of the Arteries can Lead to Arterial Occlusive Disease- MGH

Lower Extremity Arterial Occlusive Disease

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries is caused by the accumulation of a fatty substance called plaque on the inside of the walls of arteries, is a condition that affects up to 35% of Americans. Atherosclerosis can cause narrowing of any of the arteries throughout the body. This narrowing or occlusion is called stenosis, and can occur in the arteries in the (the legs), or more infrequently in the arms. When it occurs in the legs and feet, it causes a disease known as lower extremity arterial occlusive disease.

Narrowing of the arteries in the lower extremities of the body decreases the blood supply to the muscles and tissues in the surrounding area (poor circulation). Lower extremity arterial occlusive disease is often present in conjunction with other conditions, such as carotid artery disease and heart disease. Risk factors for lower extremity arterial occlusive disease include family history of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and advanced age, as well as factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. Smoking is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.


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