A blockage in the abdominal aorta means that an artery in the abdomen that supplies blood to the lower body is clogged with plaque, according to Oregon Surgical Specialists. Plaque is largely made up of cholesterol and fatty acids.
Blood flow to the legs is reduced when plaque obstructs the abdominal aorta, states Oregon Surgical Specialists. At first, the legs do not receive enough blood during exercise, so they tire and cramp easily. As the condition becomes more severe, the blood flow is so limited that leg cramps occur even when they are at rest.
Without sufficient oxygen from the blood, body tissue dies, explains Oregon Surgical Specialists. This causes gangrene, a very serious condition that requires immediate treatment, MedlinePlus warns. Often patients need operations to renew the flow of blood and remove dead tissue.