Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) comprises diseases of the blood vessels except those of the heart and brain. There are two types of peripheral vascular disease. One type is referred to as functional because it doesn't involve defects in the structure of the vessels. Most of the functional types of disease are short term and may be activated by cold temperatures, smoking, stress or even working with vibrating machinery.
The other type - organic peripheral vascular disease - is usually caused by a narrowing of the vessels that carry blood to the legs, arms, stomach or kidneys. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is caused when fatty buildup or plaque in the arteries constrains normal blood flow. Although the term peripheral vascular disease can be used to describe any disease that affects vessels outside of the brain and heart, PVD is often used as a synonym for PAD because PAD is the most common of the peripheral vascular diseases.
The good news is that often PAD can be managed with lifestyle changes such as controlling diabetes, controlling blood pressure and/or stopping smoking. Other PAD cases may require medication, and a small percentage of cases require surgery or angioplasty (a nonsurgical procedure used to widen arteries).
PVDs also encompass vein disorders. Blot clot formation, venous thrombosis, is the most common and most threatening disease of the veins. If the clot breaks loose from the vein and travels to the lung, it can lodge in a pulmonary blood vessel and potentially be fatal.
An inflammation of the veins, also called phlebitis, is a painful condition usually caused by infection or injury. The main danger with phlebitis is an increased risk of clot formations. Blood clots from inflammation hold the same risks as those in thrombosis where they can travel to the lungs and completely block blood flow.
Varicose veins are a less dangerous condition and are caused when blood flow is too slow or the valves in the veins are damaged. The veins may swell and twist into varicose veins causing pain. Varicose veins are unsightly and this is often what brings patients in for treatment
DID YOU KNOW?
The following increase your risk for PAD:
- People over age 50 have a higher risk of developing PAD.
- Diabetics over age 50 should be tested for PAD.
- Diabetics under age 50 should be tested for PAD if they have other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
- African American ethnicity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Having had heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke
Here are some important facts about peripheral artery disease:
- Approximately 8 million people have peripheral artery diseasein the United States.
- Few Americans are aware of peripheral artery disease.
- In the early stages of peripheral artery disease, most people will have no symptoms.
- The most common symptoms of peripheral artery disease are cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking.
- Many people mistake the symptoms of peripheral artery disease for something else.
- By the time people feel there is something wrong with their legs or feet, their arteries may be so clogged or hardened that they are not getting enough oxygen to supply their leg muscles.
- Health care professionals often miss peripheral artery disease during exams.
- Smoking even a half a pack of cigarettes daily may increase the risk of having peripheral artery disease by 30 percent or more.
- People with diabetes have a very high risk of developing peripheral artery disease.
- High blood pressure and/or high cholesterol increases the risk of developing peripheral artery disease.
- Men are slightly more likely to have peripheral artery disease than women.
- Most cases of peripheral artery disease can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication.
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FAQs - Peripheral Vascular Disease
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