What Causes Peripheral Artery Disease?

what causes peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease is a condition that causes your veins to become narrow such that blood does not reach your extremities (legs and hands). Most people with peripheral arteries in Evergreen Park do not have any symptoms of the condition. However, some people experience pain when they are walking. Other symptoms of peripheral artery disease include weakness of the legs, numbness, wounds on your feet and legs that do not heal, and a change in the color of the skin on your legs. 

The affected leg may feel colder than the other one and you may also get a delay in the growth of your nails and hair on the legs. Some men with peripheral artery disease get erectile dysfunction, which can be painful. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to visit a specialist who will take your medical history and examine you to determine the diagnosis. An Evergreen Park nurse practitioner may also order some imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. 

The most common cause of peripheral artery disease is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes fat deposits to form inside the wall of the arteries. This makes the lumen of the artery narrow and therefore only a little amount of blood can pass through these arteries. 

When you do not have enough blood going to your peripheries, the tissues will receive less oxygen to keep them alive. When there is no blood reaching the peripheries, the tissues in your legs may die. Other causes of peripheral artery disease are discussed below: 

1. Injury 

You may develop peripheral artery disease after getting trauma to the blood vessels in your extremities. Inflammation then follows the injury. Some of the symptoms of inflammation include swelling of the vessel walls and pain. The swelling of the blood vessels makes the lumen narrow and therefore only a small amount of blood reaches your extremities. 

2. Smoking 

Smoking is another risk factor for peripheral artery disease. Smoking causes the blood vessels to vasoconstrict and become narrow so that only a small amount of blood can pass through. Smoking can also delay the healing process after an injury due to the narrowing of the blood vessels. 

3. Diabetes 

Diabetes is a condition that affects the normal regulation of blood sugar due to abnormalities of insulin. Two types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes, in which the body does not produce any insulin, and type 2 diabetes, where your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin. When you have a lot of glucose in your blood, these glucose forms glycation molecules with other proteins of the blood, and when these compounds deposit in the vessel walls, they make the lumen to become narrow. 

4. Heart Diseases 

Having heart disease can also affect the integrity of your blood vessels and therefore put you at risk of getting peripheral artery disease. Some of the diseases of the heart that can increase this risk include high blood pressure and a high amount of cholesterol in the blood. 

Other risk factors of peripheral artery disease include exposure to radiation, obesity, abnormalities of the muscles, and ligaments, and old age beyond 50 years. Having a family history of stroke and peripheral artery disease also increases this risk. 


In summary, peripheral artery disease is a condition that causes the blood vessels in the periphery to become narrow such that the tissues in the extremities do not get enough blood or oxygen. The condition is caused by atherosclerosis, heart disease, smoking, and obesity. When you notice the symptoms of this condition, it is important to seek medical attention to prevent complications.

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