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Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) refers to diseases or disorders of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) which are located outside the heart and brain. There are various causes of peripheral vascular disease. Although, doctors usually use the term to refer to peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease, PAD). PAD is a condition which develops when the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become partially or fully blocked due to atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is very often generalized, which means that it affects arteries throughout the body. As a result, patients with heart attacks are also very likely to develop strokes and peripheral vascular disease, and vice versa. You can also refer to the Otorhinolaryngology Journal.

Signs And Symptoms

Almost half of the people with PAD (peripheral artery disease) do not experience any symptoms. For patients who experience symptoms, the most common ones are rest pain and intermittent claudication.

Rest pain in the legs occurs when the artery occlusion is so complicated that there is no sufficient blood and oxygen supply to the legs even when they are at rest and represents a more severe form of the disease. The pain mostly affects the feet, is severe, and occurs at night when the patient is lying down with the face-up.

 

Intermittent claudication refers to cramping in the arms or legs or arm or leg pain that occurs with exercise and fades with rest. Depending upon the location and range of blockage of the involved artery, the severity and location of the pain of intermittent claudication vary.

The most common area is the calf muscle of the leg, which leads to calf or leg pain while walking. The pain in the calf muscle occurs only while doing exercises like walking, and the pain increases steadily with continued walking until the patient stops due to intolerable pain.

The pain then quickly reduces during rest. This condition can affect one or both legs. Read the vascular diseases journal.

  • Other symptoms and signs of peripheral artery disease include:
  • Numbness of the legs or feet
  • Weakness and atrophy (diminished size and strength) of the calf muscle
  • A feeling of coldness in the legs or feet
  • Changes in the colour of the feet. feet become pale when they are elevated, and turn dusky red in a support position
  • Thickening of the toenails and hair loss over the top of the feet and
  • Poor wound healing in the legs or feet
  • Painful ulcers and/or gangrene in areas of the feet where there is no blood supply; usually in the toes.

Risks

Peripheral artery disease is very common in men than in women. Also, it occurs in older persons, often, over the age of 50. The known risk factors for PAD are those that influence the development of atherosclerosis. The main risk factors for the disease are:

 

  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood cholesterol (increased levels of the “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Low blood levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Diabetes mellitus (type 1 and type 2 diabetes)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) or a family history of hypertension
  • A family history of atherosclerotic disease
  • Physical inactivity
  • Overweight or obesity

The risk factors are so addictive in peripheral artery disease, that a person with a combination of two risk factors says, diabetes and smoking, have an increased likelihood of developing  PAD than a person with only one risk factor.

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