Subclavian Steal Syndrome is a relatively uncommon, yet very serious, form of (PAD) or peripheral artery disease. Subclavian Steal Syndrome causes a blockage in a critical area of the subclavian arteries. The subclavian arteries are those that rise from the aorta of the heart to the base of the neck and run beneath the collar bones. The subclavian arteries supply blood to both arms. The subclavian arteries, via the neck, also supply blood for the base of the brain from their vertebral artery extensions. Needless to say, when someone has Subclavian Steal Syndrome, you can notice the negative effects in the arms as well as the brain.
The blockage caused by Subclavian Steal Syndrome usually occurs right where the vertebral arteries extend from the subclavial arteries. What happens is, when there's a lack of blood reaching an area by a blockage or partial obstruction, say in the arms, the sufferer will feel an extreme amount of cramping and pain known as claudification. This is because not enough blood is being rushed to those muscles of the arm. Think of it like your muscles are suffocating and the blood is their air. Claudification of the arm is the least of your worries if you suffer from Subclavian Steal Syndrome.
It's the blockage of blood flow to the brain that someone suffering from Subclavian Steal Syndrome needs to really be concerned with. Cutting off the flow of oxygen carrying blood to the brain can be serious, especially if left unchecked. Your brain needs suficient oxygen to function. People suffering from Subclavian Steal Syndrome related to the brain won't feel a cramping. No, the neurological symptoms are much more serious. Double vision, severe dizzyness, ringing of the ears, vertigo, visual disturbances, and even loss of consciousness can occur when you suffer from a blockage to the brain caused by Subclavian Steal Syndrome.
Because Subclavian Steal Syndrome is in fact a form of PAD, the treatment for it matches that of other forms of PAD. Exercises to reduce claudification and blockage and anti-platelet drugs can be administered. In some cases, surgery may need to be involved to remove severe blockages.