Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), or peripheral artery disease (PAD), is vascular disorder characterized by a narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the leg and arm muscles. This disease reduces blood flow, especially to the legs and feet, making walking painful and difficult. It can also cause insufficiency in the veins carrying blood back to the heart, creating pooling of blood in the lower extremities with heaviness and pain. The most common cause of PVD is atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in the artery wall). PVD is a slow and progressive circulation disorder.
Other vascular conditions associated with PVD include:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): A thrombus or clot forms in a deep vein, and has the potential to dislodge, travel to the lungs, and cause a potentially life-threatening event.
- Varicose veins: These dilated, twisted veins are caused by incompetent valves (valves that allow backward flow of blood) allowing blood to pool. It is most commonly found in the legs or lower trunk. Symptoms include bruising and sensations of burning or aching and chronic venous insufficiency.
- Buerger's disease (thromboangiitis obliterans): This chronic inflammatory disease in the peripheral arteries of the extremities leads to the development of clots in the small- and medium-sized arteries of the arms or legs and eventual blockage of the arteries.
- Raynaud's phenomenon: In this condition, the smallest arteries that bring blood to the fingers or toes constrict (go into spasm) when exposed to cold or as the result of emotional upset.
- Lymphedema: This peripheral vascular disease causes swelling in the arms or legs because of blockage in the lymphatic vessels.
- Thrombophlebitis: Most commonly occurring in the legs, a blood clot in an inflamed vein causes red streaks in the area and danger of the clot traveling.
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Multidisciplinary care by recognized specialists in their field. In complex cases, heart disease care may require the services of a cardiothoracic surgeon, an interventional cardiologist, a lung specialist, a diabetes specialist and a geneticist. Your doctors talk to each other and make sure all specialties involved in your care are on-board with a unified treatment plan.
Over 80 million American adults (more than one in three) have cardiovascular disease (CVD). Nearly 2,300 Americans die of CVD every day — that’s one death every 38 seconds. This number can be significantly reduced through education and early detection.