KnowYourDisease.Com Peripheral Vascular Disease, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Peripheral Vascular Disease Pvd, Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis, Risk Factors, Emedicine Peripheral Vascular Disease, Complications, Pain, Signs, Surgery, Therapy
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Peripheral Vascular (Arterial) Disease
(PVD, PAD, Arteriosclerosis Obliterans, Atherosclerosis)

Definition:
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a general term for disease of any blood vessel that is not part of the heart or brain. The arterial form, usually referred to as PAD, is caused by deposits of fatty material (atheroma) in arteries of the legs or internal organs. Since arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the cells of the body, restriction of this blood flow can cause bodily organs to fail.

This is a potentially serious condition that requires care from your doctor. The sooner PAD is treated, the more favorable the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor.

Causes:
PAD is usually caused by a gradual buildup of plaque within the arteries (atherosclerosis). Other causes include blood clots or embolisms, congenital heart disease, inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis), and aortic dissection.

PAD can be hereditary. More commonly, you may get PAD if you are overweight or obese, or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, eating a high-fat diet, and not exercising enough frequently lead to PAD.

Risk Factors:
The following factors increase your chances of developing PAD. If you have any of these risk factors, discuss them with your doctor:
  • Diabetes
  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure (or family history)
  • Coronary heart disease (or family history)
  • Stroke (or family history)
  • High cholesterol (or family history)
  • Age over 50
  • High homocysteine level in blood
  • Gender: Male
  • family history of PAD
Symptoms:
Symptoms of PAD are related to the organ or part of the body deprived of adequate circulation. This includes:
  • Claudication–pain, atigue, cramping or tingling in the leg(s) brought on by exercise that goes away when resting
  • Numbness of the legs or eet at rest
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Loss of hair on the legs and/or feet
  • Paleness or blueness of the legs
  • Weak or absent pulse in the leg
  • Sores, ulcer, or infection of the feet and legs that heal slowly
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Swelling in lower extremities
Diagnosis:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include the following:
  • Checking the strength of the pulse in the leg arteries
  • Listening for a whooshing sound in a leg artery or the abdomen using a stethoscope
  • Ultrasound and doppler analysis of the arteries, especially the carotid arteries in the neck which supply the brain with blood
  • Checking blood pressure at various points in the leg and comparing it to the normal arm blood pressure
  • Blood tests for blood lipids, homocysteine
  • Treadmill test
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)–a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
  • Angiography of the arteries in the legs (x-rays of blood vessels that have been injected with a dye)
  • MRI–a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the blood vessels
Treatment:
Early treatment can slow or stop the advancement of the disease. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Lifestyle Changes
  • Smoking cessation
  • Diabetes control
  • Blood pressure control
  • Increased physical activity (eg, walking program)
  • Weight loss if overweight
  • Low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet
  • Attentive foot care (very important for people with diabetes)
    • Shoes that fit properly
    • Proper treatment of all foot injuries–healing is slowed when circulation is poor, and the risk of infection is higher
Medication
  • Antiplatelet agents such as aspirin and clopidogrel to thin your blood
  • Medicines to reduce leg pain
  • Medicines to help improve walking distance (Cilostazol)
  • Cholesterol-lowering agents (statins)
  • Medicines to enlarge or dilate the affected artery(ies)
Invasive Procedures
  • Balloon angioplasty–a balloon is inflated in the artery to stretch it
  • Stent implant–a wire mesh tube is placed in the artery; the stent expands and stays in place, keeping the artery open
  • Laser treatment
  • Atherectomy
Surgery
Surgery to open up narrowed arteries is performed in severe cases.
  • Endarterectomy–the lining of the artery is removed
  • Bypass surgery–a vein from another part of the body or a synthetic graft replaces the vessel
Prevention:
To help reduce your chances of getting PAD, make the lifestyle changes listed above under treatment.
 
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY If YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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