What Is Arterial Insufficiency? Its Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Heart attack, stroke, gangrene in fingers and toes are commonly known ailments which everyone is aware of. Do you know what causes it? Yes it is nothing else but arterial insufficiency. Let us know what it is and how it affects human health.

Arterial insufficiency can be described as insufficient flow of blood in the arteries. This inadequacy occurs when the lumen (wall) of the artery becomes narrow or gets blocked partially or completely. Several medical conditions and environmental factors can precipitate the problem. Atherosclerosis, smoking, increase blood coagulation, etc are few important ones.

The symptoms depend on the organ or the site involved. If there is an insufficient flow of blood in the coronary arteries, then it may cause heart attack. In case there is lack of blood flow in limbs, it may cause cramps and tingling numbness in legs. In severe cases, it can develop in gangrene. When eyes are involved, the patient may have vision trouble.

Treatment of arterial insufficiency reduces the morbidity and mortality rate. Change in life style, change in diet, exercise, medicines and medical procedures can make the flow better.

Causes Of Arterial Insufficiency

Blood flows from the heart to the arteries.

It is pure oxygenated blood which is considered a food for the cells and tissues to live. When the blood flow from the artery gets hampered or reduces, the tissues and cells may not function well and they may even die. Several contributory factors are involved for development of arterial insufficiency.

Atherosclerosis is one of the commonest causes. In atherosclerosis, fat and cholesterol gets accumulated and adheres to the inner lining of arterial wall. It forms a plaque. This leads to narrowing of the artery. The flow of blood in the affected artery becomes restricted and the tissues and cells starve of adequate blood and oxygen. They may not do their adequate function or may die.

In certain cases the plaque may rupture and travel to another area. This may become a life threatening event in certain cases. Example is heart attack and stroke.

It can also occur as a result of embolism. Embolus is a blood clot. Usually emboli develop from the heart. It may travel in the blood stream and block the artery. Example is pulmonary embolism.

Arterial stenosis can also cause inadequate flow of blood in the artery. Stenosis is narrowing of the artery. Example is cerebral artery stenosis or renal artery stenosis.

Following factors increase the chance of arterial insufficiency.

  • Excessive smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Increase in blood cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol.
  • History of heart ailments at young age in family.
  • Eating too oily and fatty food.
  • Lack of exercise

Symptoms Of Arterial Insufficiency

The symptoms of arterial insufficiency may depend on the part or the organ involved. Some of the common symptoms are;

  • Pain and cramps in legs and arms.
  • Tingling numbness
  • Pain in chest
  • The affected part may become pale or bluish.
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Visual difficulty
  • Pain in abdomen if the arteries of abdomen are involved.
  • Stroke
  • Weakness in limbs
  • Absence of peripheral pulse
  • Ulcers in limbs, especially in lower leg.
  • Toes and finger turn black. It may be a sign of gangrene.

Arterial Insufficiency Treatment

Several measures are needed to treat arterial insufficiency. With clinical examination and medical history, your physician may be able to conclude about the diagnosis. He may also recommend certain tests such as angiography, Doppler study, and blood tests for cholesterol etc.

When the diagnosis is made; various treatment approaches are recommended. In case of coronary artery blockage, the physician may recommend angioplasty or CABG.

Blood thinning agents are recommended for all types of arterial insufficiency. Natural measures also play an important role in treating arterial insufficiency.

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet which is free from saturated fats.
  • Avoid eating oily and fast food.
  • Exercise regularly for half hour. Walking, jogging is the best exercise.
  • Eat flax seeds and use olive oil in your diet.
  • Reduce obesity
  • Control your diabetes
  • Avoid alcohol