Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD, Peripheral Artery Disease, Peripheral Arterial Disease, PAD)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.
- Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) definition and facts
- What is peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?
- Are atherosclerosis and peripheral vascular disease related?
- What are the signs and symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PVD)?
- Who is at risk for peripheral artery disease (PVD)?
- How does atherosclerosis cause disease?
- What are the other causes of peripheral vascular diseases?
- Is there a test to diagnose peripheral artery disease (PVD)?
- What are the management and treatment guidelines for peripheral vascualr disease (PVD)?
- Medications to treat peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
- Angioplasty to treat peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
- Surgery to treat peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
- Which specialties of doctors treat peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?
- What are potential complications of peripheral artery disease (PVD)?
- How can I prevent from getting peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) definition and facts
- The term peripheral vascular disease is commonly used to refer to peripheral artery disease (PAD or PAD), meaning narrowing or occlusion by atherosclerotic plaques of arteries outside of the heart and brain.
- Peripheral artery disease is a form of arterial insufficiency, meaning that blood circulation through the arteries (blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart) is decreased.
- Risk factors for peripheral artery disease include elevated blood cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, inactivity, and overweight/obesity.
- A small percentage of people over the age of 50 are believed to suffer from peripheral artery disease.
- The symptoms of peripheral artery disease depend upon the location and extent of the blocked arteries. The most common symptom of peripheral artery disease is intermittent claudication, manifested by pain (usually in the calf) that occurs while walking and dissipates at rest.
- Doctors may use radiologic imaging techniques including Doppler ultrasound and angiography to aid in the diagnosis of peripheral artery disease.
- Peripheral artery disease can be treated by lifestyle alterations, medications, angioplasty and related treatments, or surgery. A combination of treatment methods may be used.
- Complications of peripheral artery disease include sores that do not heal, ulcers, gangrene, or infections in the extremities. In rare cases, amputation may be necessary.
- Having peripheral artery disease usually indicates the potential for arterial disease involving the coronary arteries within the brain.
- Other names that have been used to refer to peripheral vascular disease include:
- Atherosclerotic peripheral artery disease
- Hardening of the arteries
- Peripheral artery disease
- Poor circulation
- Vascular disease
What is peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and brain. While there are many causes of peripheral vascular disease, doctors commonly use the term peripheral vascular disease to refer to peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease, PAD), a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis.
Are atherosclerosis and peripheral vascular disease related?
Atherosclerosis is a gradual process whereby hard cholesterol substances (plaques) are deposited in the walls of the arteries. This buildup of cholesterol plaques causes hardening of the artery walls and narrowing of the inner channel (lumen) of the artery. When this happens in the peripheral circulation, peripheral vascular disease is the result. The atherosclerosis process begins early in life (as early as teens in some people). When atherosclerosis is mild and the arteries are not substantially narrowed, atherosclerosis causes no symptoms. Therefore, many adults typically are unaware that their arteries are gradually accumulating cholesterol plaques. But when atherosclerosis becomes advanced with aging, it can cause critical narrowing of the arteries resulting in tissue ischemia (lack of blood and oxygen).
Arteries that are narrowed by advanced atherosclerosis can cause diseases in different organs. For example, advanced atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries (arteries that supply heart muscles) can lead to angina and heart attacks. Advanced atherosclerosis of the carotid and cerebral arteries (arteries that supply blood to the brain) can lead to strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). Advanced atherosclerosis in the lower extremities can lead to pain while walking or exercising (claudication), deficient wound healing, and/or leg ulcers.
Atherosclerosis is often generalized, meaning it affects arteries throughout the body. Therefore, patients with heart attacks are also more likely to develop strokes and peripheral vascular disease, and vice versa.
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