Carotid and Peripheral Artery Diseases

Carotid and Peripheral Artery Diseases are types of atherosclerotic vascular diseases. These are conditions that occur when fatty deposits, called plaques, build up inside the walls of arteries. These plaques can cause arteries to become narrow and stiff, limiting blood flow to vital organs such as the brain and heart, and can lead to serious health problems such as strokes, heart attacks, and peripheral artery disease. 

Other types of atherosclerotic vascular disease include coronary artery disease, which occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrow and stiff, leading to chest pains or a potential heart attack. 

Carotid Artery Disease occurs when the arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain become narrowed or blocked.

Peripheral Artery Disease happens when the arteries in the legs and feet become narrowed or blocked, leading to pain or cramping in the legs, especially during physical activity.

Peripheral artery disease can be challenging to diagnose and treat in its early stages as it may be asymptomatic. The symptoms of carotid and peripheral artery disease can be similar, but they can also vary depending on the location and severity of the blockage.

Common symptoms of these conditions:

  • Pain, cramping, or weakness in the legs, hips, or buttocks​
  • Slurred speech, sudden vision changes, or weakness on one side of the body​
  • Shortness of breath or fatigue during physical activity ​
  • Ulcers in the lower limbs, gangrene of the toes​
  • High blood pressure​
  • Kidney failure​
  • Stroke

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention from a physician to diagnose the condition and recommend appropriate treatment to manage your symptoms and prevent complications.

There are several risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing atherosclerosis and, consequently, carotid and peripheral artery diseases. 

Common causes:

Age: As people get older, their risk of developing atherosclerosis increases.

Family history: A family history of heart disease, stroke, or peripheral artery disease can increase a person’s risk of developing these conditions.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage the walls of the arteries and increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis.

High cholesterol: High levels of cholesterol in the blood can lead to the development of fatty deposits in the arteries.

Smoking: Smoking can damage the walls of the arteries and increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis.

Diabetes: People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease.

Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.

Reducing these risk factors through lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and managing conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes can help prevent the development of carotid and peripheral artery diseases.

These are the most common tests used to diagnose Peripheral Artery Disease. Our doctor may recommend one or more of these tests based on your symptoms and medical history.

  • Vascular ultrasound scan of the arteries​
  • CT angiography of the arteries​
  • Invasive peripheral angiography.​

The treatment for Carotid and Peripheral Artery Diseases depends on the severity of the blockage, the location of the blockage, and the overall health of the individual. Treatment options vary depending on severity:

Early stage/Less severe

  • Lifestyle changes: making healthy lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can help reduce the risk of further blockages and improve overall cardiovascular health. 
  • Medication: Several medications can be used to treat carotid and peripheral artery diseases, including blood thinners, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and medications to control blood pressure.

Later stage/More severe

  • Minimal invasive procedures: In some cases, procedures such as peripheral and carotid angioplasty and stenting may be used to open blocked arteries and restore blood flow. 
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the blockage or bypass the affected artery.

The specific treatment approach will depend on your individual circumstances and should be discussed with a physician to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

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