Peripheral arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood to the tissues outside the heart. As you age, your arteries become stiffer and thicker.
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In addition, risk factors, such as smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes can damage the artery lining. This allows plaque (a buildup of fat and other materials) to form within the artery walls. The buildup of plaque narrows the space inside the artery and can restrict blood flow.
When this happens, oxygen can’t reach the muscle below the blockage. Then you may feel pain during activity or in more severe cases even when at rest. In time, the affected tissue can die. This can lead to the loss of a toe or foot.