Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Peripheral vascular disease is the reduced circulation of blood to a body part other than the brain or heart. It is caused by a narrowed or blocked blood vessel. The main cause is atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of fatty deposits that narrow a blood vessel, usually an artery. The narrowed blood vessel reduces the circulation of blood to the associated body part. Peripheral vascular disease mainly affects blood vessels of the legs and kidneys and, less commonly, the arms. Peripheral vascular disease is also known as peripheral artery disease, peripheral artery occlusive disease or peripheral atherosclerosis.

When atherosclerosis occurs in arteries of the heart, it is called coronary artery disease. Atherosclerosis in arteries of the brain is called cerebrovascular disease. A person with peripheral vascular disease is up to six times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Symptoms of peripheral vascular disease

In some cases, a person with peripheral vascular disease does not have any symptoms until the condition is advanced and severe. Symptoms depend on which body part is deprived of sufficient blood, but may include:

    Intermittent pain (claudication), which may feel like cramps, muscle fatigue or heaviness (usually in the legs)
  • Worsening pain during exercise (usually in the legs)
  • Easing of pain during rest (usually in the legs)
  • Coldness of the affected body part
  • Numbness
  • Pins and needles
  • Muscular weakness
  • Blue or purple tinge to the skin
  • Wounds that wont heal (vascular ulcers)
  • Blackened areas of skin or skin loss (gangrene).