Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is the narrowing of the arteries, and obstruction of blood flow to the limbs.

Symptoms

Patients often have leg pain, cramping, or muscle pain in the arms or legs from walking, or other physical activities.  The pain might disappear after a few minutes of rest depending on the severity and location of the clogged artery.  Other symptoms might include arm, leg, hand, and foot numbness, weakness, coldness, sores or discoloration, hair and toenail loss, or slow growth, shiny leg skin, a weakened pulse, and erectile dysfunction for men.

Causes

Peripheral vascular disease is often caused by fatty deposit (plaques) that build up in the artery walls and restrict blood and oxygen flow to the limbs.  Blood vessel inflammation, limb injuries or deformities, or radiation exposure can also lead to the onset of the disease.

Treatments

There are a variety of treatments to manage the symptoms, stop the progression of plaque buildup, and reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Lifestyle Modification

Quitting smoking, losing weight, and a healthy diet can help reduce the damage of peripheral vascular disease.

Medications

Cholesterol lowering medications (statins) can help reduce the “bad” cholesterol and plaque buildup in the arteries. High blood pressure medications can reduce the tightness of the blood vessels and arteries, while aspirin or blood clot-preventing drugs (Plavix) can reduce plaque buildup.

Angioplasty & Stents

A tiny balloon is inflated inside the artery (angioplasty) and a wire mesh (stent) is permanently implanted to keep the artery walls open for improved blood and oxygen flow.

Coronary Bypass Surgery

During surgery, an artery or vein from another body part is used to bypass the blocked or narrowed heart artery to increase blood flow.

To learn more about peripheral vascular disease, please visit the Mayo Clinic