What are the symptoms of arterial insufficiency?

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of arterial insufficiency. Atherosclerosis narrows your arteries and reduces blood flow to your body’s organs and tissues. This results in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals. Mild atherosclerosis and arterial insufficiency usually do not produce any symptoms. However, symptoms of moderate to severe atherosclerosis and arterial insufficiency depend on which arteries are affected.

Common symptoms of arterial insufficiency

The most common symptoms of arterial insufficiency are related to problems in the arteries of the heart, brain and limbs. Peripheral arterial insufficiency often leads to pain, aching, numbness or cramping in the arms or legs.

Symptoms related to the arteries of the heart include:

  • Chest pain or pressure

  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing (tachypnea)

Symptoms related to the arteries that supply blood to the brain include:

  • Drooping muscle in the face

  • Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak

  • Sudden numbness in the arms or legs, particularly on one side of the body

Other symptoms of arterial insufficiency

Other symptoms of arterial insufficiency are related to decreased or blocked blood flow in the arteries of the kidneys and digestive system.

Symptoms and medical signs related to the kidney (renal) arteries include:

  • Generally not feeling well, such as having malaise, nausea, headaches, fatigue, or loss of appetite

  • High blood pressure with decreased kidney function (measured with a laboratory test)

  • Unexpected weight loss

Symptoms related to the intestinal (mesenteric) arteries include:

  • Abdominal pain 15 to 60 minutes after eating

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Gas or flatulence

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Unexpected weight loss

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, arterial insufficiency can be caused by or lead to a life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of the following life-threatening symptoms:

  • Blurred or double vision, or sudden change in vision

  • Chest pain or pressure

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as lethargy, passing out, or unresponsiveness

  • Change in mental status, such as confusion or disorientation

  • Difficulty breathing, rapid breathing (tachypnea), or shortness of breath

  • Numbness, weakness, drooping or paralysis on one side of the face

  • Paralysis or difficulty moving a body part

  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) or palpitations

  • Severe abdominal pain or headache

  • Sudden difficulty with speaking, memory, thinking, talking, comprehension, writing or reading

  • Urinating only very small amounts of urine or lack of urination


What is arterial insufficiency?

Arterial insufficiency is decreased blood flow or lack of blood flow through your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart, out to your tissues and organs. Blood flowing through your arteries carries oxygen to all the cells of your body.

Arterial insufficiency occurs when your arteries become narrowed or blocked by an underlying disease or conditi... Read more about arterial insufficiencyintroduction


What causes arterial insufficiency?

The most common cause of arterial insufficiency is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is caused by the accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in the bloodstream. These substances build up on the walls of arteries and form hard structures called plaques. Plaque narrows and stiffens the arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through the artery. Read more about arterial insufficiencycauses


How is arterial insufficiency treated?

Treatment of arterial insufficiency begins with seeking medical care from your healthcare provider. To determine if you have arterial insufficiency, your healthcare provider will ask you to undergo diagnostic testing.

Treatment plans for arterial insufficiency vary depending on the underlying disease or condition. For example, lifestyle changes and drug therapy are the mainstays o... Read more about arterial insufficiencytreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation