Peripheral vascular disease

Description of Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral arterial disease occurs due to the narrowing of the blood vessels outside the heart. The cause of PAD is atherosclerosis. This happens when plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs.

Plaque is a substance made up of fat and cholesterol. It causes the arteries to narrow or become blocked. This can reduce or stop blood flow, usually to the legs. If severe enough, blocked blood flow can cause tissue death and can sometimes lead to amputation of the foot or leg.
Causes and Risk Factors 
Major risk factors are:
1. Smoking
2. Older age
3. Diseases such as diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Signs and Symptoms
Many people who have PAD do not have any symptoms. Some common symptoms may include:
1. Pain
2. Numbness
3. Achiness
4. Heaviness in the leg muscles (usually while walking or climbing stairs)
5. Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet
6. Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
7. A pale or bluish color to the skin
8. A lower temperature in one leg than the other leg
9. Poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs
10. Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes
PVD can also increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and transient ischemic attack.
Your doctor may diagnose the disease with:
1. Physical examination
2. Heart tests
3. Imaging tests
Treatments may include:
1. Lifestyle changes such as,
a) Dietary changes
b) Exercise
c) Efforts to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
2. Medicines
3. Surgery
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Content Details
Last updated on:
01 Nov 2021 | 04:56 PM (IST)
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