The thickening of the artery wall causes a constriction on the inside of the arteries that transport the blood to the head, organs and limbs. This wall thickening, called plaque, is composed of fat, cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue and other components of the blood.
When plaque grows in the arteries, one speaks of atherosclerosis. Over time, this plaque will harden and narrow the arteries. This hinders the transport of oxygen-rich blood to the organs and all parts of the body.
Peripheral artery disease is most common in the arteries to the legs but can also cause problems in the arteries that transport the blood to the head, arms, kidneys and intestines. We will limit ourselves here to atherosclerosis that affects the circulation to the legs.
The illustration shows how peripheral artery calcification can affect the arteries leading the blood to the legs. Figure A shows a normal artery with normal blood flow. The small drawing is a cross-section of a normal artery. Figure B shows an artery with plaque, which partially prevents the blood flow. The small drawing is a cross-section of a narrowed artery. Depending on the location of the constriction, different symptoms can occur.