Nov 05

Peripheral and Carotid Artery Disease: What’s the Difference?

Peripheral and Carotid Artery Diseases are both generally caused by the same underlying problem. This cause is known as atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build up along the artery walls. When you are diagnosed with or suspect either of these diseases, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Both peripheral and carotid artery disease could lead to dangerous cardiovascular events, such as stroke.

But how do you distinguish peripheral and carotid artery disease? The difference is in the location.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease is any kind of narrowing of the arteries in the legs, stomach, arms, and sometimes head. In other words, peripheral artery disease affects arteries away from the heart itself. Most commonly, peripheral artery disease is felt in the legs, especially while walking or running. Unfortunately, peripheral artery disease can go undiagnosed and people often confuse it with something else.

The Notable Symptoms

Symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:

  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Cold feeling in the lower leg or foot, indicating a reduction in blood flow
  • Change in color of the legs
  • Hair loss on the legs or feet
  • Shiny skin on the legs
  • Sores on the toes or feet that don’t heal normally
  • Slow growth of toenails

When to Get a Scan

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, it’s highly recommended that you receive a scan for peripheral artery disease. This is especially true if you are older than 50 or if you have diabetes or high blood pressure.

Carotid Artery Disease

While carotid artery disease has the same underlying cause as peripheral artery disease, this specifically affects the carotid arteries in the neck. These arteries are significant since they are responsible for sending blood to the brain and the face. Given the important function of these arteries, the narrowing of the arteries due to the buildup of plaque can cause serious problems, especially stroke and loss of feeling in certain parts of the body.

The Notable Symptoms

Symptoms of carotid artery disease include:

  • Transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke), which could result in a sudden (severe) headache, loss of balance, inability to move a limb, sudden vision loss, and trouble understanding speech.

When to Get a Scan

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Scheduling Your Scan

While requesting a screening with no symptoms or one risk factor (i.e. high cholesterol) is not always advised due to the risk of misdiagnosis, showing signs of any of the symptoms of artery disease should prompt a scan. A family history of artery diseases is also a factor to consider and could warrant a scan if other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, occur.

To schedule your scan or ask questions, you can visit this page to learn more or call us at 918-879-6161.

Heart Disease, Blood Pressure

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