Peripheral Vascular Disease

What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Peripheral Vascular Disease, also called peripheral artery disease, is a common condition related to the circulatory system. The patient’s extremities are unable to receive enough blood flow due to narrowed arteries, which reduce the amount of blood that reaches the limbs. The condition is more commonly noticed in the legs but can also appear in the arms.

In some cases, peripheral vascular disease could hint at another underlying problem. Arteries might be narrowed because of fatty deposits throughout the vessels. In addition to reducing blood flow to the body’s limbs, the heart and brain may not be receiving as much blood as they need to function properly.

What are the Symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Indications of peripheral vascular disease can range from absolutely nothing to more severe symptoms. Those who do experience discomfort will usually notice:

  • Leg pain while walking (claudication)
  • Muscle cramping/pain that intensifies with activity and eases with rest
  • Numbness or weakness in limbs
  • Coldness in feet or hands
  • Sores that will not heal on extremities
  • Hair loss or impaired hair growth on arms or legs
  • Skin color changes in affected area
  • Shiny skin on legs
  • No pulse/weak pulse in extremities
  • Slowed toenail growth
  • Erectile dysfunction (men)

Left untreated, peripheral vascular disease can reach a point where it causes discomfort when lying down or at rest. It may even make it difficult to sleep.

How is Peripheral Vascular Disease Treated?

There are several lifestyle changes and home remedies that can alleviate the discomfort of peripheral vascular disease. Proper exercise, healthy eating, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and quitting smoking are effective management approaches.

Furthermore, staying away from over-the-counter cold medications with pseudoephedrine will help greatly, as these drugs constrict blood vessels and aggravate symptoms. If needed, there are several prescription medicines to help control underlying contributing conditions and relieve symptoms. Some cases may require surgery or angioplasty to treat the condition.

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Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
August 24, 2017
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