How do I know I have a narrowed or a blocked artery?

The patient experiences pain on walking – first on climbing up the stairs or walking uphill. He has to stop and rest for about a minute before the pain disappears and allows him to walk an identical distance before stopping again due to similar pain. This is called ‘claudication’ in technical terms.

Over time if the patient continues to smoke the narrowing worsens leading to total blockage. The pain also progressively worsens until he gets pain all the time – day and night. This is called rest pain.

This rest pain is a warning sign that your leg is now in danger if you continue to smoke or do not seek medical help.

As the blood supply continues to reduce to the leg the patient may have ulcers that do not heal or blue toes.This is the progression of the disease to Gangrene. You are in danger of getting your leg amputated should you not seek medical help from a specialist Vascular Surgeon.

What happens when we come to the vascular surgeon?

  • The specialist vascular surgeon will note the history of ‘caludication’, ‘rest pain’, non-healing ulcers and blue toes with their duration.
  • Then he will examine you from head to toe because atherosclerosis involves the arteries throughout your body – brain, neck, heart, abdomen and limbs.
  • He would examine all your pulses and record the pressures in your limbs using a small handheld Doppler.

Having reached a provisional diagnosis your doctor would confirm his diagnosis by ordering a few tests.

Content Reviewed by – Dr. Jaisom Chopra

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