Arterial occlusive disease

Arterial Occlusive Disease

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Abbreviation: AOD.

Alternative Name: Peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD).

Arteries are blood vessels that take blood from the heart to the rest of the body. These blood vessels can become blocked by a build up cholesterol or a blood clot on the walls of the arteries. When this happens, the result is arterial occlusive disease, also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

Arterial occlusive disease

Arterial occlusive disease mainly affect the abdominal aorta, its major branches, and the arteries of the legs. Buerger's disease, Raynaud's disease and acrocyanosis are other forms of peripheral artery disease. In most cases the person with this disease will have atherosclerosis.

Arterial occlusive disease result from the obstruction of the large peripheral arteries, the arteries carrying blood to the head, internal organs, and limbs. Obstruction may be caused by the clogging and hardening of the artery walls, stenosis, an embolism, a blockage caused by a blood clot, an air bubble, a piece of tissue, or a foreign object.

Another major cause of peripheral arterial disease is diabetes.

Other causes include:

1. Build-up cholesterol in the arteries.

2. An infection.

3. A blood clot, where small clots become lodged in the arteries.

4. Swelling of the arteries.

Risk factors Include:

  • High blood pressure.

  • High cholesterol.

  • Diabetes.

  • Family history of atherosclerosis.

  • People who are obese.

  • Advanced age.

  • Sedentary lifestyle.

  • Smoking.

Occlusive peripheral arterial disease is common among older people because it often results from atherosclerosis, which becomes more common with aging. Occlusive peripheral arterial disease may affect 15 to 20% of people older than 70. The disease is particularly common among people who have ever smoked regularly and among those who have diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2.


    Pain in the leg muscles, particularly calves.

  • Severe aching pain in their toes or feet at night.

  • The most severe forms of lower extremity peripheral vascular disease manifest as ulcerations or sores of the toes and feet that fail to heal and gangrene.

Other symptoms Include:

    Intermittent claudication.

  • Arm pain.

  • Pain at rest.

  • Pain in the legs at night.

  • Cold feet.

  • Hair loss on the arms or legs.

  • Red, blue, or pale skin on the affected limb.

  • Sores on the arms or legs that would not heal.


The diagnosis of occlusive peripheral arterial disease is based on the symptoms and the results of a physical examination.

In most instances the diagnosis is clear from the clinical history. The clinical examination should include

1. Examination of peripheral pulses femoral/popliteal/foot.

2. Abdominal palpation for aneurysm.

3. The healthcare provider may detect weak or absent pulses in the affected arm or leg. With a stethoscope, the provider can often hear a bruit.

Other Imaging and Testing Methods Include:

    Digital subtraction angiography (DSA).

  • Duplex ultrasound.

  • Magnetic resonance angiography.

  • Computed tomography angiography.

Treatment Options:

If symptoms are mild-to-moderate, the disease can be well managed by lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, smoking cessation, and management of related medical conditions such as high cholesterol levels, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Exercise can help tremendously in relieving symptoms. Blood-thinning drugs or other kinds of medication may also be prescribed.

There are five drugs licensed in the UK for the symptomatic treatment of intermittent claudication:


  • Cilostazol.

  • Inositol nicotinate.

  • Oxpentifylline.

  • Cinnarizine.

In some cases, a procedure (surgery) may be required to relieve the narrowing in the artery and to restore blood flow to the leg. The arterial stenosis may be treated using minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty and stenting to improve blood supply to the affected extremity. However, if the disease is advanced, or if it occurs in an artery that is difficult to reach with a catheter, arterial bypass surgery may be necessary in order to restore blood flow.

Disclaimer: The following tests, drugs and medications, surgical procedures are in some way related to, or used in the treatment. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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