Lower-Limb Ischemia and Obesity

What is Lower-Limb Ischemia?

Lower-limb ischemia is a vascular disorder which occurs when oxygen supply to to the leg tissues is reduced due to poor blood flow. This reduced blood supply is typically caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in the walls of the leg arteries (atherosclerosis). Since obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure and high cholesterol – both contributory factors in arterial occlusive diseases like atherosclerosis – weight reduction is an important preventative measure in retarding the development of lower-limb ischemia.

Link Between Diabetes, Obesity and Lower-Limb Ischemia

Diabetics have a greatly increased risk of lower-limb ischemia, because diabetes is commonly associated with peripheral arterial disease involving the profunda femoris, popliteal and tibial arteries, as well as the aorta and iliac arteries. Since the incidence of type 2 diabetes is closely related to the incidence of obesity, it follows that the risk of lower-limb ischemia is increased among obese patients.

Morbid Obesity Further Increases Risk of Lower-Limb Ischemia

Weight-related health problems increase with increased weight. Therefore patients with morbid or malignant obesity are at even higher risk of vascular diseases like lower-limb ischemia.

Treatment For Lower-Limb Ischemia

Although lower-limb ischemia can be treated with medications (eg. aspirin), surgical widening of the arteries (angioplasty) or arterial bypass surgery, reduction of obesity is also beneficial. Unless treated, chronic critical limb ischemia can be life-threatening.