Some patients can have very severe disease of the arteries which reduces the blood supply to the limb (arm or leg). If the reduced blood supply results in constant pain in the limb, especially at night, a sore or ulcer on the limb which is very painful or if there is gangrene, this is a very dangerous condition which could result in an amputation. This type of arterial disease is much more common in men, smokers, those with diabetes and those with diseased arteries elsewhere. It needs to be investigated and treated urgently in order to save the limb. If you think you might have critical ischemia you should ask your GP or medical specialist for an urgent appointment with Stuart Walker.
Depending on the site and extent of the arterial disease, the treatment options will vary. Most patients can be treated by dilating the diseased blood vessel (angioplasty). Sometimes a bypass operation is required.
It is very important that patients with critical ischaemia:
1. stop smoking
2. have their blood pressure well controlled
3. are treated with a cholesterol lowering medication (statin) even if their blood cholesterol level is normal.
4. start taking a low dose of aspirin every day e.g. 100mg
5. keep walking and exercising.
For those who would like more information see the femoral PDF. There is a lot of medical and surgical terminology in this document.