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Poor blood circulation of the legs is caused by the build-up of plaque in the blood vessels (especially the arteries) called atherosclerosis.
Risk factors for the development of peripheral artery disease (PAD) include:
Over time, the build-up of plaque in the arteries results in reduced flow of oxygen-rich blood to the tissues. This may result in symptoms of the legs and / or feet including:
More seriously, the build-up of plaque in the arteries may lead to blood clots causing heart attack and / or stroke.
A diagnosis of PAD will require a comprehensive assessment by a medical professional or vascular consultant, and will include a review of medical and family history, a physical examination and referral for relevant diagnostic testing.
The goal of PAD treatment is to improve the blood supply to the legs and therefore reduce symptoms, improve mobility and quality of life, and reduce the risk of serious complications such as heart attack and / or stroke.
The type of treatment required will be based on the medical assessment, though commonly includes lifestyle changes, medication and / or surgery.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2019. Peripheral Artery Disease (online). National Institutes of Health U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (viewed 18 August 2019) Available from: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/peripheral-artery-disease