Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or dogged with plaque (cholesterol) – referred to as atherosclerosis – reducing blood flow to the legs. PVD can lead to leg pain when walking (claudication), disability, and even amputation. Blocked leg arteries can be a red flag that other arteries, including those in the heart and brain, may also be blocked—increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The chance of having PVD increases with age. People over age 50, especially men, have a higher risk for PVD, but the risk is increased if a person:
Peripheral vascular disease is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries. This condition may be reducing blood flow to the heart and brain, as well as the legs.
Peripheral vascular disease can often be improved by quitting tobacco, exercising and eating a healthy diet.
While many people with PVD do not experience obvious symptoms, others with the disease may have:
If peripheral vascular disease progresses, pain may even occur when resting or lying down. It may be severe enough to disrupt sleep.
Some of the tests a Deborah Heart and Lung Center physician may rely on to diagnose peripheral vascular disease are:
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