Peripheral Artery Disease 101

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Filed Under: Heart Health, Circulation
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

One of the common conditions cardiologists treat has nothing directly to do with the heart itself, but rather with blockages of blood vessels going to and from the kidneys, stomach, arms, legs, and feet. We call this condition peripheral vascular or arterial disease. You may know it as “poor blood circulation,” a phrase often used in the ads you see on television.

An estimated 12 million Americans are affected by the disease, and its incidence increases with age—about one-fifth of people age 70 and older have it. The condition is sometimes called a smoker’s disease because it’s particularly prominent among people who have smoked at some point in their lives.

Doctors agree that peripheral blood circulation problems are typically due to the buildup of plaque in the affected blood vessels—similar to the kind of buildup we see in the coronary arteries that feed the heart or the carotid arteries leading to the brain. The result is restricted blood flow, discomfort, tiredness, heaviness, and, often, cramping. In the early stages of the disease, patients commonly complain of cramping and fatigue in the legs and buttocks during activities like walking. Because the symptoms tend to subside when the person sits down, we refer to the problem as intermittent claudication.

To improve blood circulation, doctors often use the drugs advertised in the ads I mentioned earlier. Angioplasty or surgery is also sometimes necessary. My approach takes a different tack. I focus on the muscle cells and how to get rid of their metabolic by-products, which become increasingly toxic because of the poor blood circulation.

As the muscles are used, they burn energy and release waste. This waste causes the cells in the muscles to swell and press against adjacent blood vessels. In a person whose arteries are already compromised by plaque buildup, the swelling causes further vasoconstriction, or narrowing of the vessels. Worse yet, the toxins themselves have a vasoconstricting effect of their own—so you’re hit with a triple whammy of sorts. And as you would imagine, the more toxins that accumulate, the worse the condition gets and the more difficult it becomes to walk.

The solution is to help remove the toxins. To do this, I suggest taking 1 gram daily of glycine propionyl-L-carnitine (GPLC), a form of L-carnitine that’s proven to help improve blood circulation and blood pressure levels, as well as offsetting the destructive nature of inflammatory compounds, cellular waste products, and toxins.

For more information on natural ways to avoid circulatory problems or other cardiovascular problems, visit www.drsinatra.com.

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