Arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as a person ages, arteries can become blocked with plaque. This is called atherosclerosis , or hardening of the arteries. As more plaque builds up, the arteries narrow and stiffen. Eventually, if enough plaque builds up, blood flow to the leg arteries is reduced. When the arteries in the legs become blocked, the legs do not receive enough blood or oxygen.
When there is a long and very narrowed blockage in a leg artery, the best treatment may be arterial bypass surgery. A new blood vessel is attached to allow blood to bypass (go around) the blocked artery. A bypass graft may be made from a portion of one of the patient's veins or a synthetic (man-made) material.
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