Types of Peripheral Artery Disease

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Peripheral artery diseases include:

  • Carotid artery disease
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Mesenteric artery disease
  • Renal artery disease
  • Peripheral artery disease of the legs

Carotid artery disease is damage or blockage in the carotid arteries, which are located in the neck and carry oxygen-rich blood to the head and brain. While there are no specific symptoms of carotid artery disease, the general warning signs of stroke—headache; dizziness; confusion; trouble swallowing; and numbness of the face, legs, or arms—may indicate blockage in the carotid arteries.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is an abnormal bulging or stretching of the section of the aorta located in the upper part of the stomach, or abdomen. The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to all other parts of the body. The exact causes of an abdominal aortic aneurysm are not known. Generally, an aneurysm does not cause symptoms, even when it is about to burst. If not treated, the aneurysm could rupture (burst). Ruptured aneurysms are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Mesenteric artery disease is a narrowing or blockage of one or more of the three mesenteric arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to the intestines. The blockage is often caused by a blood clot that breaks away from the heart. If the condition is chronic, symptoms are stomach pain after eating and occasional diarrhea. If it is acute (sudden), symptoms include intense stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Acute mesenteric artery disease requires immediate medical attention.

Renal artery disease is a narrowing or blockage of the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the kidneys. In most cases, the condition affects the arteries leading to only one kidney. If not treated, it can lead to permanent kidney damage. In people over age 50, the condition is usually caused by atherosclerosis. In people under age 40, particularly women, the disease is usually caused by a muscle disorder in which abnormal tissue grows in the renal artery.

Peripheral artery disease of the legs is a narrowing and hardening of the arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to the legs and feet. A decrease in blood flow can damage nerves and tissues in the legs and feet. Peripheral artery disease of the legs is usually caused by atherosclerosis.

If you have symptoms of a peripheral artery disease, see your doctor or schedule an Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute screening.