Peripheral Vascular Disease
(PVD, Peripheral Artery Disease, Peripheral Arterial Disease, PAD)

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Peripheral vascular disease facts

  • The term peripheral vascular disease is commonly used to refer to peripheral artery disease (PAD), meaning narrowing or occlusion by atherosclerotic plaques of arteries outside of the heart and brain.
  • Risk factors for peripheral artery disease include elevated blood cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, inactivity, and overweight/obesity.
  • About 5% of people over the age of 50 are believed to suffer from peripheral artery disease.
  • The symptoms of peripheral artery disease depend upon the location and extent of the blocked arteries. The most common symptom of peripheral artery disease is intermittent claudication, manifested by pain (usually in the calf) that occurs while walking and dissipates at rest.
  • Doctors may use radiologic imaging techniques including Doppler ultrasound and angiography to aid in the diagnosis of peripheral artery disease.
  • Peripheral artery disease can be treated by lifestyle alterations, medications, angioplasty and related treatments, or surgery. A combination of treatment methods may be used.
  • Complications of peripheral artery disease include sores that do not heal, ulcers, gangrene, or infections in the extremities. In rare cases, amputation may be necessary.
  • Having peripheral artery disease usually indicates the potential for arterial disease involving the coronary arteries within the brain.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/28/2012

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Peripheral Vascular Disease Definition

Peripheral vascular disease: A disease of blood vessels outside the heart. Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) affects the peripheral circulation, as opposed to the cardiac circulation. PVD comprises diseases of both peripheral arteries and peripheral veins. PVD is sometimes incorrectly used as a synonym for peripheral artery disease (PAD). Intermittent claudication due to inadequate blood flow to the leg is an example of peripheral artery disease (PAD) while varicose veins and spider veins are examples of peripheral vein disease.

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