What Causes Calcium Deposits?

Calcium is a mineral that naturally occurs in the body and is necessary for one’s general health. When it collects in the wrong place, it can turn into tiny crystals or calcium deposits. Calcium can collect in the arteries where it becomes plaque, which restricts blood flow.

Several factors cause calcium deposits to form:

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Infection
  • Genetic disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Calcium metabolism disorders

“Calcium buildup can lead to complications,” states Dr. Yan Katsnelson, “which become evident when symptoms begin to arise.”

Symptoms of Calcium Deposits in Legs

Calcium deposits that form in the arteries of the legs can restrict blood flow, which may make your legs feel numb, painful, or tingly. These symptoms occur as a result of the legs not getting enough blood and oxygen for them to function properly, especially when doing more challenging tasks, such as running or climbing stairs.

If you have symptoms of pain or numbness in your legs, you may suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD). This condition results from restricted blood flow caused by plaque or calcium buildup in the arteries. USA Vascular Centers offers minimally invasive PAD treatments to help restore normal blood flow. 

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Complications of Calcium Deposits

High levels of calcium in your body are typically associated with increased risk of developing more severe health issues. A large amount of calcium buildup in your coronary arteries puts you at risk for a heart attack, and calcium deposits that develop in the arteries of your brain can cause dizziness, headaches, and memory loss. 

Calcium in the leg arteries can lead to the development of peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is a narrowing of the arteries caused by excess plaque buildup. The most common type of PAD occurs in the lower extremities. When the legs are unable to receive enough blood and oxygen to function normally, PAD patients experience pain and decreased mobility. In severe cases, the condition can lead to amputation.

Although at this time there is no way to prevent the buildup of calcium in the tissue, also known as calcification, Yan Katsnelson M.D. shares some healthy habits you can introduce to your life. For example, quitting smoking, exercising, reducing your sodium intake, and adding more vegetables to your diet can help reduce calcium buildup in your arteries. If you have an excess of calcium in your body that leads to another health condition, like PAD, there is no substitute for seeking treatment.

How Are Calcium Deposits Linked to Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

Calcium deposits occur due to the buildup of fatty plaque because of high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and other factors in the blood. This condition is also known as atherosclerosis, which is a precursor to getting PAD. Peripheral artery disease stems from a buildup of plaque specifically in the legs, which restricts blood flow to the muscles in this area. This buildup often causes pain and loss of mobility because of a lack of nutrition for the muscles. 

Among the arteries most commonly blocked due to calcium buildup include iliac arteries in the pelvis, superficial femoral artery or SFA in the thigh, and infrapopliteal artery below the knee.

Some hardening of the arteries with age is normal but the below group of individuals are at an increased risk of developing PAD:

  • Age over 50
  • High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic and heavy drinking
  • Smoking
  • Inactivity

Early detection of calcium buildup may help in preventing the development of PAD, heart, and cerebral health issues. If not handled promptly, calcium deposits in arteries (arterial calcification) can lead to an increased risk of limb events, including amputation.

At USA Vascular Centers, our PAD doctors will begin your diagnosis with examinations to ascertain the presence of PAD in your legs and decide on a treatment plan.

These tests may include:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI): Blood pressure in your ankle and arm will be measured with the help of a special ultrasound device. If the blood pressure is found to be low in your ankle compared to that of your arm, it could be indicative of PAD, as low blood pressure could be due to blockage in your leg arteries.
  • Ultrasound: Images obtained through ultrasound can help your doctor evaluate the blood flow and extent of blockage in your leg arteries.
  • Exercise stress test: It involves walking on a treadmill, usually for five minutes, or until you must stop due to discomfort in your legs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): The test makes use of magnetic fields and radio waves to show blockages inside your arteries.
  • Computed tomography (CT): Specialized X-rays are used to get details of artery blockages.
  • Angiography: The test uses contrast dye to film the blood flow in your arteries to know the exact location of the blockage.

CT and MRI are highly sensitive methods to assess the extent of calcium deposits in the leg arteries. Angiography is helpful in determining the degree of calcification in vessels located below the knee (tibial vessels) and the superficial femoral artery or SFA.

Role of Calcium Deposits in PAD Development

When any of these main arteries get blocked due to calcium and fatty deposits, smaller arteries, known as collateral pathways, take over the function of supplying blood to the leg muscles. These smaller arteries are good at supplying blood to the leg muscles when a person is at rest. They can’t, however, supply sufficient amounts of blood when you are exercising, climbing, or doing physically demanding jobs. This is because the leg muscles need more blood and oxygen, and the arteries aren’t able to quickly fulfill this increased demand due to blockage. 

People with PAD can experience pain while exercising, climbing, running, or walking, which may subside when they rest. PAD symptoms get worse over time unless treated. However, other PAD patients may experience no symptoms at all, especially if they are in the early stages. 

Seek help from a medical professional if any of the following symptoms apply to you:

  • Leg pain or numbness and weakness
  • Leg discoloration 
  • Leg cramping
  • Foot and leg pain that disturbs sleep
  • Poor toenail growth

Treatment for Peripheral Artery Disease Caused by Calcium Deposits

PAD treatment at the USA Vascular Centers is done with the help of a special procedure, known as balloon stent angioplasty. This non-surgical procedure is used to open or expand blocked arteries. A small balloon will be inserted into the blocked artery with a catheter, which is then inflated to allow for the placement of a stent. The stent is left in place to increase blood flow while the catheter and balloon are removed.

Contact USA Vascular Centers Today

If you suffer from the symptoms of PAD or otherwise have concerns about a potential diagnosis, it is important to take the time to seek treatment. Even if your condition has advanced, the right treatment option can help improve the quality of life and may increase mobility. 

To begin working toward better vascular health, you can call us at 888.773.2193, or schedule online. We look forward to meeting you. 

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Dr. Yan Katsnelson is a philanthropist, business owner, and highly skilled cardiac surgeon. He is the Founder and CEO of USA Vascular Centers, which is part of USA Clinics Group, the parent company of USA Fibroid Centers, USA Vein Clinics, and USA Oncology Centers with more than 90 facilities nationwide. Dr. Yan has established himself as a strong advocate for accessibility and affordability of the most advanced medical care close to home, and his mission is to create a positive experience for each patient with compassionate, personalized, and expert care.

 

Do you want to know more about Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)? Check out some of our other blog articles:

Different Types of Stents

Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms and Complications

What Kind of Doctor Treats Peripheral Artery Disease?