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Atherosclerosis of the lower extremities: causes of development

Atherosclerosis of the lower extremities: causes of development

Atherosclerosis of the lower extremities is a degenerative process occurring in the vessels, disrupting the nutrition of tissues and leading to loss of capacity.

How to develop atherosclerosis of the legs

Atherosclerosis obliterans - the result of the occurrence of pathological metabolic processes, leading to a narrowing and complete blockage of the lumen of the blood vessels of the legs.

The process begins unnoticed: on the inner walls of blood vessels are deposited substances contained in the blood - cholesterol esters. Having a viscous sticky consistency, lipids are attached to the walls of blood vessels from the inside and prevent normal blood flow.

Gradually, the walls thicken, become dense, and the inner layer is affected. Ulceration of the inner layer causes increased thrombosis. In these places, the vessels are soaked with calcium salts, losing mobility and the ability to fully function. Own tissue is replaced by connective, scars are formed.

A disease in which the lumen of a blood vessel is not completely blocked is considered non-nosocidal. Beginning with microscopic changes, in the absence of an adequate response from the patient, the process threatens with the growth and formation of dense cholesterol plaques that threaten not only health, but also life.

Causes of atherosclerosis of the lower extremities

Atherosclerosis of the legs suffers, overwhelmingly, men.

The main reasons for the development of pathology are:

  • excessive psycho-emotional overload, prolonged stress;
  • hypothermia of the legs;
  • hard physical work;
  • smoking;
  • alcoholism;
  • arterial hypertension;
  • diabetes;
  • improper nutrition - the abuse of heavy fatty foods;
  • overweight;
  • thyroid and gonads dysfunction

Factors that cause vascular spasms (alcohol, smoking) significantly aggravate the situation in cases where there are already prerequisites for the development of atherosclerosis.

Cholesterol is an indicator that should be carefully monitored after 30-35 years.

Symptoms of atherosclerosis of the lower extremities

Since blood vessels are affected unevenly, and the body tries, as far as possible, to compensate for violations, the signs may not be expressed explicitly, to be blurred.

  1. Pain and fatigue while driving
  2. Cramps calf muscles
  3. Feeling cold in the legs
  4. Pallor, blueness of skin
See more on the blog: How to assist if cramping legs

These signs may indicate other abnormalities in the lower limbs. The classic symptom of atherosclerosis is lameness, which manifests itself during walking (because the patient feels a lot of pain, which can resonate even in the thigh or groin area). It is worth stopping, taking some rest - and the pain subsides in order to make itself felt again while driving.

Stage of the disease

Depending on the severity of atherosclerosis, I distinguish several stages of the course of the disease:

  1. At the initial stage, the patient can walk about a kilometer before feeling pain and discomfort in the leg muscles. The sensation of cold, paleness of the skin is also characteristic. On the aching leg, the growth of hair and nails slows down (stops).
  2. While progressing, the disease causes a sensation of pain when moving already after 100 meters, the skin becomes dark, bluish, small wounds appear that do not heal for a long time.
  3. Further, in the absence of treatment, the patient is disturbed by pains in a state of rest. They are strengthened if the legs are in a horizontal position. The patient can not sleep, his legs swollen. Shin, foot ulceration (trophic ulcers that do not heal). This condition threatens gangrene and amputation of the leg.

The situation is greatly worsened by the history of diabetes mellitus, since in this case the disease progresses faster, there is a threat of oncology, a high percentage of lethal outcomes.

Acute arterial thrombosis becomes a dangerous factor for life: a blood clot closes a large vessel, stopping blood flow. The skin turns white, the leg becomes numb, sensitivity and ability to move is lost. In this case, emergency surgical assistance is needed, there are several hours left to try to keep the leg.

Methods for the diagnosis of atherosclerosis

In addition to interviewing the patient and taking history, external examination and evaluation of test results, instrumental methods are used to make a diagnosis:

  • UZDS - ultrasound duplex scanning of arteries. The state of the walls of the blood vessels and surrounding tissues, the speed of movement of the blood flow, its direction are evaluated. The doctor on the monitor sees the causes of impaired blood flow. Ultrasound of the vessels is harmless to the patient, it allows you to get a complete clinical picture, make a diagnosis and decide on further actions of a specialist;
  • X-ray examination of blood vessels - arteriography of the vessels of the lower extremities. The method involves the introduction of a contrast agent into the patient’s bloodstream in order to subsequently take a series of X-rays and assess the health status of the arteries. The study is used only in the hospital, after it the patient is shown bed rest for 12 hours. During the diagnosis, the patient receives X-ray irradiation.
  • As an additional method to assess the trophism of tissues, use the measurement of the partial pressure of oxygen.

Treatment of atherosclerosis of the legs

In each case, the treatment regimen is made up individually, which method to choose, which medications to prescribe and whether it is possible to do without surgery, the doctor decides.

The choice depends on the stage and severity of the process, as well as on the presence of concomitant diseases.


At the initial stage of the disease, the doctor may decide on the appointment of a conservative treatment to the patient. It combines medication and therapeutic exercises, the exercises of which are selected according to the patient’s condition and abilities.

The action of drugs is aimed at stabilizing and improving the condition of the vessels, eliminating the symptoms and strengthening the patient's health:

  • antispasmodic drugs;
  • pills and ointments to reduce blood viscosity;
  • drugs that reduce cholesterol in the blood;
  • drugs that are aimed at protecting the internal walls of the arteries from damage and restoration of the affected areas;
  • medications to improve blood circulation along the collateral channel (bypassing the affected area)


A huge role for people suffering from atherosclerosis is played by proper nutrition.


  • dietary meat - boiled or stewed white chicken without skin and fat, turkey, rabbit meat, game;
  • fish, give preference to sea;
  • low-fat dairy products - kefir, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, yogurt;
  • vegetables, fruits, vegetable soups (potatoes - boil, stew without oil, bake);
  • cereals;
  • durum wheat pasta;
  • nuts - walnuts, almonds;
  • bread;
  • spices, mustard, vinegar;
  • teas, weakly brewed coffee, compotes, fruit drinks, sugar-free juices, mineral water

Limit to:

  • vegetable oil;
  • chicken eggs (no more than 1 per week);
  • cheese (including processed cheese);
  • mayonnaise with low fat content;
  • sweets - sugar, honey, marmalade, marshmallow, marshmallow;
  • alcohol

You can not:

  • butter;
  • animal fat, fat;
  • hard margarine;
  • fatty meat, sausages, sausages, pates;
  • fat meat broths;
  • condensed milk, cream, whole milk, sour cream, high fat cottage cheese, ice cream;
  • french fries, fried potatoes, potato chips;
  • cheese, mayonnaise;
  • baking;
  • chocolate, pastry cream

Surgical intervention

If surgery is selected as a treatment, then there are two ways to perform the intervention.

  1. Endovascular methods consist in expanding the vessel lumen and returning normal blood circulation through a small incision. This method is used if segmental artery disease has occurred. A thin catheter with a balloon is inserted into the lumen of the artery to allow blood flow to be restored. If the artery collapses, a stent is inserted - a device that prevents the artery walls from converging.
  2. If a large section of the vessel is blocked and small invasive methods are not suitable, a full-fledged operation is carried out: vascular prosthetics (replacement of the affected artery with an artificial vessel); shunting (direction of blood flow to bypass the blocked artery by an artificial one); removal of an atherosclerotic plaque that clogs a blood vessel.

After surgery, the patient is in the hospital. He receives painkillers and blood thinning drugs, is under the supervision of a physician.

Folk remedies

Traditional medicine offers its own ways of dealing with atherosclerosis at home. They can supplement drug treatment, but before using the tips, you should consult with a specialist.

  • Grind a large head of garlic and medium lemon (with zest), mix, pour 0.5 liters of vodka, remove in a dark place for 10-12 days. Shake the container daily to mix the contents. Ready infusion filter and take 1 tbsp. l in the morning on an empty stomach;
  • Fresh nettle stems with leaves to boil in boiling water, let it brew for 30 minutes. Use for foot baths. The procedure duration is 30 minutes, the frequency is every other day;
  • Mix in equal proportions dandelion rhizome, steles and leaves of wild strawberry, leaves of lemon balm and nettle. 2 tsp. mixture pour 0.3 liters of boiling water, insist 1 hour. Drink infusion throughout the day in small portions;
  • Mix flowers of meadow clover, calendula, corn stigmas and rowan berries in equal parts. 1 tbsp. l mix pour 0.3 liters of boiling water, boil in a water bath for 15 minutes, cool, strain. Drink three times a day to 0.1 liters.


Atherosclerosis of the lower extremities

Measures to prevent damage to blood vessels are simple:

  • eat right, do not abuse fatty, rich in low-lipid cholesterol, food;
  • stop smoking;
  • control body weight;
  • to live an active lifestyle;
  • prevent overcooling of the legs;
  • limit alcohol intake;
  • avoid stress and nerve overload;
  • moderately exercise dosing

Atherosclerosis of the lower extremities is an insidious and dangerous disease. When the first symptoms of circulatory disorders should consult a specialist, how to treat the disease should be decided by a doctor.

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