Arteries carry blood throughout your body to keep it supplied with oxygen and nutrients. Once the blood is depleted, your veins carry it back to your heart and the process starts over again. If your arteries or veins become blocked, it can result in a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism or death. Knowing the symptoms of venous and arterial blockages can help save your life or the life of someone you know.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), a narrowing and blockage of the arteries to your arms or legs, is a serious disease that affects more than 8 million people in the United States, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). While PAD can occur in any extremity, it is most common in your legs. When the artery narrows, blood flow to your leg decreases. This results in pain, difficulty walking and ulcers, according to the AHA. If the artery becomes completely blocked, blood flow to the limb will stop, resulting in gangrene and amputation of the limb.
Peripheral Artery Blockage Symptoms
The symptoms of PAD include pain when you walk, numbness or weakness in your leg and sores on your toes, feet or legs. You may also experience hair loss on your leg or foot and coldness in your lower leg or foot, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Coronary Artery Blockage
When the main arteries of your heart become narrowed or blocked from a build up of fatty deposits called plaque, the condition is called coronary artery disease (CAD). If the arteries become completely blocked, blood flow is stopped and it results in a heart attack. More than 650,000 people in the U.S. die each year from CAD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Coronary Artery Blockage Symptoms
Symptoms of coronary artery blockage include chest pain (angina), tightness in your chest, pain in your abdomen or arm, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea and lightheadedness. For women, who often have atypical symptoms, signs of coronary artery blockage also include difficulty sleeping, indigestion and anxiety.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a dangerous condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein, most commonly in the leg. One of the dangers of a deep vein clot is that it can break loose from the vein and travel to your lungs causing a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. The symptoms of a deep vein blockage in your leg include redness and warmth in your leg, swelling of your leg, ankle or foot and pain or cramping in your calf muscles. Symptoms of a vein clot in your arm include swelling and pain of your arm and redness and warmth in the limb. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include sudden shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting and coughing up blood. If you experience these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
- National Institutes of Health