Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)/ Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral vascular diseases (PVDs) are circulation disorders that affect blood vessels. PVD usually attacks the veins and arteries that supply the arms, legs, and organs. These are the blood vessels that are distant from the heart. They are known as peripheral vessels.
In PVD, blood vessels are narrowed. Narrowing is usually caused by arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a disorder where plaque forms inside a vessel. It is also called hardening of the arteries. Plaque reduces the amount of blood and oxygen provided to the arms and legs. As plaque increases, blood clots may develop. This restricts the flow in the vessel and the arteries become blocked.
Symptoms of PVD
- Painful cramping
- Aching pain
- Fatigue and weakness
(50% of patients have no symptoms)
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a type of PVD often used to mean the same condition that affects only the arteries. PVD may also be referred to as:
- Arteriosclerosis obliterans – is an occlusive arterial disease most prominently affecting the abdominal aorta and the small- and medium-sized arteries of the lower extremities.
- Arterial insufficiency of the legs – Arterial insufficiency is any condition that slows or stops the flow of blood through your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to other places in your body.
- Claudication – Claudication is pain caused by too little blood flow, usually during exercise. Sometimes called intermittent claudication, this condition generally affects the blood vessels in the legs, but claudication can affect the arms, too.
- Intermittent claudication – a symptom that describes muscle pain (ache, cramp, numbness or sense of fatigue) usually in the calf muscle, which occurs during exercise, such as walking, and is relieved by a short period of rest.
There are numerous risk factors for PVD. Some are due to underlying medical conditions, age, and gender while others are due to lifestyle choices.
- High cholesterol, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), heart disease, diabetes mellitus (type 1 diabetes), family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or PVD, family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or PVD, high blood pressure, and kidney disease on hemodialysis
The lifestyle choices that can increase your risk of developing PVD are:
- Being overweight
- Being sedentary and not engaging in physical exercise
If lifestyle changes don’t control your PVD, you may need medication or surgery in severe cases.
Complications of PVD can include:
- Blood clots that obstruct small arteries
- Coronary artery disease
- Limb amputation due to tissue death in the limb
- Heart attack
- Pallor, or Paleness
- Pain when the legs are elevated
- Severe pain that restricts mobility
- Wounds that don’t heal
Diagnosis of PVD
To diagnose PVD, your physician will begin with a complete medical history, physical exam and possibly some diagnostic test.
Treatment typically includes lifestyle modifications. You will need to:
- Stop smoking
- Commit to a regular exercise program that includes walking
- Eat a balanced diet with proper nutrition
- Lose weight
- Treat conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
Call 911 Immediately for:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest Pain
- Change in mental status
- Facial drooping
- Sudden onset of severe numbness or loss of sensation
- Sign and Symptoms of stroke (See below)
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