Peripheral Vascular Disease (cont.)

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What are potential complications of peripheral artery disease?

In rare cases, the decreased circulation to the extremities characteristic of peripheral artery disease can lead to open sores that do not heal, ulcers, gangrene, or other injuries to the extremities. These areas that do not receive adequate blood flow are also more prone to develop infections and, in extreme cases, amputation may be necessary.

What are the other causes of peripheral vascular diseases?

A number of conditions such as vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels, occurring either as a primary condition or associated with connective tissue diseases such as lupus) may cause damage to blood vessels throughout the body. Injuries to blood vessels (from accidents such as auto accidents or sports injuries), blood-clotting disorders, and damage to blood vessels during surgery can also lead to tissue ischemia.

Tissue ischemia can also occur in the absence of atherosclerosis or other abnormalities of arteries. One example of a condition in which the blood vessels themselves are not damaged is Raynaud's disease, which is believed to occur due to spasms in blood vessels brought on by stress, tobacco smoking, or a cold environment.

Since atherosclerosis of the peripheral arteries (PAD) is by far the most common cause of peripheral vascular disease, the rest of this article focuses upon peripheral artery disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/28/2012

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