Did you know that about 8.5 million people in the United States alone suffer from peripheral vascular disease or PVD?

PVD is actually a very common health concern and it tends to originate from atherosclerosis which is another widespread condition. If you’ve never heard of PVD before, you might be wondering what it is and how it affects the body.

This peripheral vascular disease guide will lead you through everything you need to know about this condition, how it develops, and how you can treat it. To start, let’s answer the question, “What is peripheral vascular disease exactly?”

What Is Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease is a circulation disorder that slowly worsens with time. PVD can affect virtually any blood vessel in the body as long it is not a vessel supplying the heart. PVD can affect both arteries and veins, and in some cases, lymphatic vessels as well. 

In some cases, peripheral vascular disease may be referred to as peripheral arterial disease, but this term may cause some confusion since the condition can affect more than the arteries alone.

The major downfall of PVD is that it involves the restriction of blood vessels that only worsens over time. As blood vessels become restricted, less and less blood can reach important internal organs such as the liver or brain. 

Other tissues in the body such as the muscles can also be seriously affected. More often than not, the extremities, especially the legs, have the worst outcomes when it comes to PVD.

However, in the beginning stages of the disease, many people may not even realize that they have a problem since they don’t feel any pain.

One of the first symptoms of PVD is pain in the legs when exercising or walking around. This pain occurs because the blood in the body is attempting to reach the leg muscles but cannot since the blood vessels in the area are too occluded.

The pain disappears when you sit down because less blood will flow to the area. 

Depending on the severity of the disease, the pain may appear in one or both of the legs. But what causes PVD in the first place and what are the other symptoms beyond the pain? Is there anything that can be done about the condition once you have it?

The Causes and Symptoms of PVD

As mentioned before, one of the major causes of PVD is atherosclerosis, but PVD may be caused by other conditions as well.

Some people may be more susceptible to the development of PVD if they are over the age of 50, have a history of heart disease, or have a family history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

Certain conditions can predispose you to the development of PVD such as diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease. If you smoke and don’t exercise often, you may develop PVD more easily as well. As for the symptoms of PVD, they can vary depending on the severity of the condition. 

As PVD worsens, you will likely notice changes in skin color on your extremities, especially the lower legs and feet. The skin will usually change to a bluish or purple color due to the lack of blood flow in the area.

The extremities may also be not as warm as other parts of the body and the skin in the area may have a brittle texture. 

In some cases, gangrene can develop in the legs and feet. Gangrene involves the death of tissue due to the lack of adequate blood supply. In severe cases, a doctor may need to amputate the affected feet and legs to prevent the gangrene from getting worse or spreading. 

Before gangrene, you may experience other symptoms in the extremities such as hair loss and loss of mobility. You might start to experience numbness in your legs and feet or chronic pain. If your extremities become injured, the injuries tend to take a long time to heal. 

So, are there any peripheral vascular disease tips you can follow to treat this condition or keep it from getting worse?

How to Treat Peripheral Vascular Disease

Some of the best peripheral vascular disease advice that you can follow is prevention.

If you already have health conditions such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, or heart disease, you should try to make life changes to avoid PVD. For example, losing weight and following a healthy diet as well as exercising daily are all very important. 

Even if you already have PVD, these practices are still very important as they can help keep the condition from getting any worse. Medication may also be helpful if you already are suffering from peripheral vascular disease.

Doctors often prescribe blood thinners to those with PVD since it will help the blood flow more easily. 

Other medications can help to reduce the muscular walls of your blood vessels to allow your blood more space to flow. In severe cases of PVD, surgery may be necessary. Vascular surgery usually involves replacing the damaged blood vessels with blood vessels from another part of your body that may be in better condition. 

Your doctor may also try performing an angioplasty. This procedure involves inserting a catheter into your occluded blood vessels to open up the blood vessels. 

Everything You Need to Know About Peripheral Vascular Disease

By the end of this article, you should know all about what peripheral vascular disease is and how it affects the body. You should also know what causes the disease and what treatment options are available. 

To learn more about vascular diseases and treatments, contact us here.