What are the signs of circulation problems?

Circulation symptoms occur when blood flow to a part of your body is reduced, usually as a result of a narrowing of the arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood rich in oxygen to all parts of the body. Typically this occurs due to the plaque buildup in the artery walls, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Risk factors for atherosclerosis include smoking, diabetes, obesity, and elevated blood lipid (fat) levels. It results in a narrowing of the arteries, and this narrowing prevents adequate blood flow.

Circulation symptoms can also arise in the veins (blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart). Blood clots in the veins may cause local inflammation and swelling (thrombophlebitis), or the blood clots may break off and travel to other sites in the body, in a process known as embolization. Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition caused by a blockage of an artery in the lung due to a blood clot that has traveled to this location.

Circulation symptoms can occur in the head, arms, kidneys, stomach, and other organs. When blood flow to an organ is interrupted, especially over time, organ failure can result. Interruption of blood flow to the brain (stroke) or heart (heart attack) are serious causes of circulation symptoms. The legs are another common site for circulation symptoms. As the flow of blood is blocked or slowed significantly due to peripheral artery disease in the legs, you may feel pain, heaviness and numbness in your legs, especially during and after walking or climbing stairs, when your muscles need more blood and are not able to get enough.

You may prevent or improve circulation symptoms by making important lifestyle changes, particularly by giving up smoking and limiting fats, cholesterol, and refined sugars in your diet, as well as asking your physician to recommend a good exercise program for you.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, experience chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing; sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body; slurred speech; loss of vision; paralysis or inability to move a body part; sudden, severe headache; or confusion or loss of consciousness, even for a brief moment. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for circulation symptoms in your legs, but symptoms persist or cause you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with circulation symptoms?

Circulation symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Frequently, symptoms that affect the circulatory system will also involve other body systems.

Musculoskeletal symptoms that may occur along with circulation symptoms

Circulation symptoms frequently accompany other symptoms that affect the musculoskel... Read more about circulation symptomssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes circulation symptoms?

Circulation symptoms occur when blood flow to a part of the body is reduced, usually as a result of a narrowing of the arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood rich in oxygen to all parts of the body. Usually this happens through the plaque buildup of atherosclerosis. Risk factors for atherosclerosis include smoking, diabetes, Read more about circulation symptomscauses

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