Radial artery is one of the most common arteries in human body. It supplies blood to many vital organs including heart, brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. The radial artery is located at the base of your forearm just above your middle finger. It starts from the top of your hand and runs down through your palm and into the palm of your hand. The radial artery is divided into two branches: the carotid branch (which supplies blood to your head) and the jugular branch (which supplies blood to your heart).
The radial artery carries oxygenated blood to all parts of your body. If it were not for its supply of oxygenated blood, you would die within minutes due to lack of oxygen. You need enough oxygenated blood in order for healthy cells and tissues to function properly.
When there is too much blood flow to the radial artery, it becomes narrowed. When the arterial narrows, it can no longer carry enough oxygenated blood to all parts of your body. This condition is called hypoxia or low oxygen level in the bloodstream.
Hypoxia causes symptoms such as dizziness, weakness and fatigue.
When the radial artery is completely blocked, it can lead to heart attacks, strokes or even gangrene. According to an article by National Institutes of Health (NIH), “If a blood clot forms at the site of plaque build up, it can block the flow of blood through the artery.” The clogged artery is unable to supply adequate blood to the body, causing a heart attack or unstable angina.
If a blood clot leaves the clogged artery and travels to other parts of the body, such as the brain, it can cause a stroke.
The radial artery is blocked, in whole or in part, in many people. Because it is blocked or narrowed, you may feel pain when the pressure in your arteries is too high. The pain has a crushing or squeezing effect that may be felt in different areas of the upper body depending on where the blockage is located.
If the pain is felt in the left arm, it may be a sign of a heart attack or unstable angina. If the pain is felt in the right arm, it may be a sign of vascular disease, which is a slow buildup of plaque inside your body’s arteries. If the pain is felt in the jaw, it may be a sign of a blood clot in the heart.
Atherosclerosis: This medical condition is also known as “hardening of the arteries”. It is a preventable and permanent condition caused by the build-up of plaque, or fatty deposits, inside your arteries. Over time, cholesterol and fats get into your bloodstream and collect on the walls of your arteries, which makes them hard and narrow.
When the plaques get too big, they form clots or thrombus that can cause blockages in your arteries. Blocked blood vessels reduce the supply of oxygen to organs and other parts of the body. If a blood clot occurs in the heart, it can cause a heart attack.
High blood pressure: Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as it travels through your body. Having high blood pressure means the force is higher than it should be. This can sometimes lead to heart attacks, strokes, eye damage and other complications.
Bad Cholesterol: Sometimes called lipoproteins, cholesterol is a fat that your body needs to function properly. But when you have more cholesterol in your blood than you need for healthy living, it can cause serious problems. LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein is the “bad” kind of cholesterol and HDL or High Density Lipoprotein is the “good” kind of cholesterol.
LDL collects on the walls of your arteries and forms plaque, which makes the artery wall hard and narrow. This reduces the supply of oxygen to organs and other parts of the body.
Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat in your bloodstream that you get from eating certain foods. Sometimes, the triglycerides are made inside your body when you eat more carbohydrates than you need. Eating certain kinds of foods can increase your triglycerides.
Triglycerides can be associated with fatty deposits in the organs such as the pancreas, liver and muscles.
Red Blood Cell: Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are the most common type of blood cell and can be found in your bloodstream. They give blood its distinctive red color. Red blood cells are disc-shaped and have a center segment called the nucleus, which is surrounded by mitochondria.
They also have an outer area called the cytoplasm, which contains organelles such as glycogen granules. In addition, they have a surrounding layer of glycoproteins called the glycocalyx that act as adhesion promoters. When red blood cells have a low level of oxygen or are damaged in some way, they lose their negative charge. As a result, they are then vulnerable to adhesion to the wall of blood vessels, such as when they arrive in an area of low oxygen.
Enlarged Heart: Having an enlarged heart means your heart has grown bigger than its normal size. This can be caused by several factors such as heart disease or high blood pressure. One of the most common causes of having an enlarged heart is having high blood pressure for a long period of time.
Over time, the heart works harder to force blood through the body.
Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries. This condition restricts blood flow to parts of the body and oxygenates the organs. The plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances.
The arteries most commonly affected are the coronaries, which supply oxygenated blood to the heart muscle itself.
Carotid Artery: The carotid arteries are a pair of major blood vessels on either side of the throat. They run through the front of the neck and supply oxygenated blood to the head. The carotid arteries carry nearly half of the blood to the brain.
The brain receives its blood supply from multiple sources, and an injury that blocks one source will not necessarily lead to loss of consciousness. If one of the carotid arteries becomes blocked, however, it can lead to a loss of oxygen to the brain, causing a blackout.
Jugular Vein: The jugular veins are a pair of major veins located on either side of the throat. They carry de-oxygenated blood back to the heart from the head and neck.
Sources & references used in this article:
Percutaneous radial artery approach for coronary angiography by L Campeau – Catheterization and cardiovascular diagnosis, 1989 – Wiley Online Library
On the safety of radial artery cannulation by S Slogoff, AS Keats, C Arlund – … : The Journal of …, 1983 – anesthesiology.pubs.asahq.org
Incidence and outcome of radial artery occlusion following transradial artery coronary angioplasty by PR Stella, F Kiemeneij, GJ Laarman… – Catheterization and …, 1997 – Wiley Online Library