Arm Artery Disease

Arm artery disease is a type of peripheral artery disease. In most patients it is a chronic disease that progresses slowly. In some cases patients may experience an acute onset. Arm artery disease is a circulatory disorder in which one or more of the arteries in the arm become narrow or blocked.


Upper extremity arterial obstruction is also referred to as arm artery disease. It is a circulatory disorder caused by narrowed blood vessels. The most common causes of Arm artery disease are:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Embolic Disease
  • Discomfort or pain in your arms
  • Tightness, heaviness, cramping, or weakness in one or both of your arms
  • Cool skin and lack of pulse
  • Pain and sensitivity to cold
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Intermittent Claudication( pain or discomfort while exercising)
Arm Artery Disease
Risk Factors of Arm Artery Disease include:
  • Smoking, or a history of smoking
  • High cholesterol levels in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Family history of heart or vascular disease
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
Causes may include:
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
  • Raynaud's - your hands are extremely sensitive to cold and your fingers turn blue, white, and red in a cool environment
  • Buerger's disease - an inflammation of the small blood vessels and nerves in your hands and feet
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome- sometimes associated with repetitive motions
  • Embolism - which is a blood clot that travels from one area of your body and blocks a blood vessel in your arm

To diagnosis arm artery disease your physician may start with your family history and take your blood pressure and temperature in both arms to listen for abnormal whooshing sound, called bruits. Several test may be suggested to diagnosis arm artery disease including:

  • Segmental blood pressures, or taking many blood pressure readings along your arms, hands, and fingers
  • Duplex ultrasound
  • Chest or neck x-rays
  • Computerized axial tomography (CT or CAT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
  • Angiography (takes x-rays of your arteries)

The approach to treatment will depend on the underlying cause of arm artery disease, your physician will examine your family history and symptoms to help you to manage your condition.

Treatments may include:

  • Healthy Lifestyle ( no smoking, maintain a healthy weight and diet. Start exercising and walking more)
  • An anesthetic injection (sympathetic block) can relieve symptoms

Surgical procedures for advanced symptoms may include

  • Angioplasty - via catheter, inflate and deflate a special balloon to break up the plaque
  • Stent - to hold open the artery
  • A bypass to create an alternative arterial path
  • Endarterectomy to remove plaque