Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of blood vessels outside of the heart and brain. It is often a narrowing of vessels that carry blood to the legs, arms, stomach or kidneys. Varicose veins are an example of PVD in the veins.
The most common type of PVD occurs in the arteries. This is called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which like coronary artery disease, occurs as a result of plaque or fatty buildup (atherosclerosis) in the walls of the arteries. This may include an aneurysm ballooning the arterial wall within the abdominal section of the aorta or carotid artery disease.
PAD may be dangerous if left untreated and could result in gangrene and amputation of limbs due to severely restricted blood flow. Some patients with PAD have a higher risk of stroke or heart attack. Early detection of PAD is essential.
Symptoms of PVD vary, depending on the affected area, but may include:
- Cramping or fatigue in the legs while walking, called ‘claudication’
- Swelling or edema in lower extremities
- Non-healing sores on the feet or legs
- Pain in the feet while in bed, restless legs
- Numbness and tingling in the feet or hands
- Severe or sudden abdominal and/or back pain (abdominal aortic aneurysm)
- High blood pressure or blood pressure that is hard to control with medications (kidney arteries)
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consult a MemorialCare Physician partner.
Risk Factors & Prevention
You might be at risk for PVD if you:
- Smoke or have been a smoker
- Are diabetic
- Are over the age of 50
- Have high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Have high cholesterol
- Are overweight
- Are inactive
- Have a family history of cardiovascular or peripheral vascular disease
- Have sleep apnea
Peripheral Vascular Disease Screenings
MemorialCare provides low cost, noninvasive vascular screenings to detect PVD.
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Follow Up Care
- Quit smoking
- Control high blood pressure
- Control high cholesterol
- Control high glucose/diabetes
- Correct sleep apnea
- Be physically active
- Maintain a healthy diet