P is for Peripheral Vascular Disease

May 16, 2013

Peripheral Vascular Disease is the main cause of poor circulation to the foot and lower limb.

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is a condition that affects the blood vessels outside of the heart and brain, particularly those supplying the legs and arms. It is also commonly referred to as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) or Peripheral Arterial Disease. PVD is characterized by a narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels, primarily the arteries, leading to reduced blood flow to the extremities.

Causes: The most common cause of PVD is atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty deposits (plaques) build up within the arterial walls, causing them to become narrow and stiff. Other contributing factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, family history of vascular disease, and certain inflammatory conditions.

Symptoms: The symptoms of PVD can vary depending on the location and severity of the arterial blockages. Common signs and symptoms include:
Pain or cramping in the legs or arms during physical activity, known as intermittent claudication. This pain typically subsides with rest.
Numbness or weakness in the affected extremities.
Coldness in the legs or arms.
Changes in skin color, such as paleness or blueness.
Slow-healing wounds or ulcers on the feet or toes.
Weak or absent pulses in the affected limbs.

Diagnosis: A healthcare professional may diagnose PVD based on a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Common diagnostic tests include ankle-brachial index (ABI) measurement, which compares the blood pressure in the arms and legs, Doppler ultrasound, angiography, or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA).

Treatment: The treatment of PVD aims to relieve symptoms, improve blood flow, and prevent complications. It typically involves lifestyle modifications, medications, and in some cases, procedures or surgery. Treatment options may include:
Lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking, adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight management.
Medications: Medications may be prescribed to control blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, prevent blood clots, and manage symptoms.
Angioplasty and stenting: In certain cases, a procedure called angioplasty may be performed to open up blocked arteries. A stent, a small mesh tube, may be placed to keep the artery open.
Bypass surgery: In severe cases, bypass surgery may be necessary to create alternative routes for blood flow, bypassing the blocked arteries.
Wound care: Proper wound care and management are essential for individuals with PVD-related ulcers or wounds.
Foot care: Those with peripheral vascular disease need to take care of their feet to prevent problems developing.


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