Blockages of Circulation to the Legs, Arms and Hands

The Vascular Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

The Vascular Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, offers comprehensive care by a skilled group of vascular surgeons experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of circulatory system disorders including vascular blockages. Patients who are experiencing pain, ulcers, numbness or weakness in the leg may be at risk for vascular blockage.

About the Condition

Blood vessels keep blood moving throughout the body. Arteries carry blood from the heart to provide oxygen and nutrients to the body. Veins carry blood back to the heart after the nutrients have been used up. If these blood vessels become blocked or narrowed, called a vascular blockage, you are at risk for a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism or death.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

A vascular blockage occurring in the arms or legs is considered a type of peripheral artery disease (PAD). The blockage can cause a decrease in blood flow leading to pain, difficulty in movement and ulcers. Peripheral artery disease usually affects the legs, and complete blockages can end blood flow to legs and result in gangrene and/or amputation. The preliminary symptoms can include numbness or weakness in your leg, or sores on the toes, feet and legs.

If the vascular blockage is occurring in a deep vein (deep vein thrombosis), for example, in the leg, the condition can be dangerous. Deep vein symptoms can include redness, skin warm to the touch, swelling of the leg, ankle and foot and pain or cramping in the calf muscle. Deep vein clots or blockages can break loose from the vein and cause a pulmonary embolism in the lung, which can be fatal. Pulmonary embolism symptoms are shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting and coughing up blood. Call for emergency help if your experience these symptoms.

Imaging techniques, such as ultrasounds and MRIs are preferred diagnostic tools because they are less invasive than surgery and work just as well. Diagnosis for a vascular blockage can include angiography, a type of X-ray that uses an injected dye to map the blockages and narrowing in the arteries

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Treatments for vascular blockages or clots will vary depending on the cause of the blockage, the severity and your overall health.  Treatments can include:

  • Self-care by reducing risk factors like smoking, a sedentary life style, high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol management. Managing these health issues can actually reverse symptoms of vascular disease.
  • Medications that help lower the risk and progression of narrowing arteries or blockages. A variety of drugs are available that improve blood flow or prevent blood clotting or actually dissolve a blood clot.
  • Interventional minimally invasive procedures such as balloon angioplasty, stenting or the removal of artery plaque buildup.
  • Bypass surgery if the blockage involves most of the blood vessel.
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