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Can you please explain what a subclavian steal is and the dangers of having one

By Anonymous December 15, 2014 - 3:31am
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Hello Anonymous,

Welcome to EmpowHER and thank you for such an interesting question.

Have you or a relative been diagnosed with a subclavian steal? If so,
your cardiologist is best person to explain this condition, its causes, symptoms and risks.

Subclavian steal syndrome is a relatively uncommon form of peripheral artery disease (PAD) in which a blockage is present in a critical location within one of the subclavian arteries, causing symptoms that involve both the arm and the brain.

It occurs when there is stenosis or occlusion of the subclavian artery proximal to the vertebral artery origin, causing reversed flow in the ipsilateral vertebral artery. Blood is 'stolen' from the circular vertebrobasilar system to supply the distal territory of the occluded or stenosed artery.

Subclavian stenoses are most often asymptomatic and therefore do not need any treatment.

The term 'subclavian steal syndrome' should only be used in cases where this aberrant blood flow causes symptoms which affect the brain, upper limb or the heart. These are related to reduced cerebral perfusion when the arm ipsilateral to the subclavian stenosis is exercised.

Upon exercising the upper arm on the affected side of the body, patients may experience loss of consciousness, double vision and other visual disturbances, ringing in the ears, vertigo, or dizziness.


December 15, 2014 - 9:48am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Maryann Gromisch RN)

I would like to thank maryanne as her answer was a lot easier to understand. i have a recurring steal they have tried on several occations to remedy tto no avail. thank you maryanne. susan b

December 20, 2014 - 8:46am
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