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What is aortoiliac occlusive disease?

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Aortoiliac occlusive disease is a peripheral arterial disease that happens when the iliiac arteries of the aorta become blocked or narrowed, explains the Society for Vascular Surgery. The aorta is the body's main artery, and it splits into smaller branches, called the iliac arteries, which run through the pelvis and legs.

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An early symptom of aortoiliac disease is cramping or pain or fatigue in the lower body when walking or exercising, the Society for Vascular Surgery states. More advanced aortoiliac disease causes a variety of symptoms such as numbness in a limb, weakened muscles in the legs, and sores on the legs or feet. Hardening of the arteries is the most common cause of aortoiliac occlusive disease. People with an increased risk for hardening of the arteries include those who smoke, have high blood pressure or cholesterol, are obese, or have a family history of heart disease.

When a person has aortoiliac disease, the tissue in the legs may not receive the proper supply of blood and oxygen, explains the Society for Vascular Surgery. A lack of oxygen and blood supply is a condition called ischemia, which causes pain or in severe cases sores and gangrene. Gangrene can result in amputation, although this is not common with proper treatment.

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