Peripheral Artery Disease Causes

Peripheral artery disease has several indirect causes, most of which are risk factors for atherosclerosis (the leading cause of the condition). Peripheral artery disease affects the arteries, which are blood vessels that transport oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. When these vessels become blocked with plaque – as is the case with atherosclerosis – blood flow is restricted to the limbs and extremities. When the arteries that carry blood to your extremities become affected, it is considered peripheral artery disease.

Simple, non-invasive screening tests can help identify peripheral artery disease and are recommended for individuals with risk factors that are known to correlate with atherosclerosis. These risk factors include:

  • Being over the age of 70
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking or using other tobacco products
  • Being obese
  • Having high blood pressure

Additional risk factors for peripheral artery disease include having a family history of heart disease, stroke, or peripheral artery disease, as well as having high amounts of fat, cholesterol, or sugar in the blood. People who are physically inactive, consume a high number of alcoholic beverages, and have poor nutrition may also have an elevated risk of developing a cardiovascular condition.

Oftentimes, people mistake the symptoms of peripheral artery disease as natural side effects of aging. This is because most symptoms affect the legs and oftentimes occur during already taxing activities, such as climbing stairs, so they are easy to dismiss. However as the conditions that are known causes of peripheral artery disease become progressively worse, these symptoms may not subside after the activity is over and instead become persistent.

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