What Is Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), also called peripheral artery disease (PAD), is a narrowing of the arteries in your limbs, most often in the legs. The condition is usually caused by deposits of a fatty substance called plaque, and it can be a sign of blockages in other parts of your body, such as your arms. More uncommon causes can be blood vessel inflammation, irregularities in muscle or ligament anatomy, injury and exposure to radiation.
Our vascular specialists share decades of experience providing care for people with vascular conditions. After an evaluation, our providers will diagnose your symptoms, discuss your treatment options and design a care plan especially for you, using minimally invasive treatments (using tiny incisions) whenever possible.
Many people don’t experience any symptoms of PVD; those who do may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Leg pain, aching, numbness and/or heaviness after activity
- Weak or absent pulse
- Paleness or a bluish tint to the skin
- Cold skin, compared to your other arm or leg
- Poor nail and hair growth
- Sores and/or wounds that heal slowly or not at all
- Erectile dysfunction in men
As conditions worsen, you may even feel pain at rest or when lying down. If you experience any of these symptoms, are over age 70 or have diabetes, excess body weight or a history of smoking, ask your doctor about a screening for PVD.
Treatment can help you manage symptoms of PVD. Depending on your situation, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, control blood sugar and prevent blood clots.
In some cases, surgery may be the best option to help prevent complications, such as heart attack or stroke. Our surgeons are dedicated to providing you with high-quality care to treat your PVD. Surgical treatment can include:
Angioplasty and stenting
A catheter will be guided to where plaque is blocking your blood vessel. When it’s in place, a small balloon will inflate that pushes the plaque against the vessel’s interior walls. A stent, a small mesh tube, can then be inserted to support the veins or arteries and restore blood flow.
Using a catheter with a small cutting device attached, doctors will cut out or shave off plaque buildup in your blood vessels. Large pieces of plaque will be removed from your body through the catheter. In some cases, a laser may be used to dissolve the plaque.
By grafting a synthetic blood vessel or a healthy blood vessel taken from somewhere else in your body, our doctors can create a new pathway for your blood to move around the blocked area.
In emergency situations, your doctor may use thrombolytic therapy, a type of medication used to break up blood clots. The medications are administered through an IV or directly at the site of the blood clot using catheters (thin tubes).
In addition to these treatments, your doctors may recommend lifestyle changes and provide you with resources to help you quit smoking, eat well and get enough exercise to keep your heart healthy.
Low-cost, painless screenings allow us to detect vascular disease in its early stages, when treatment is most effective.
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When Do You Need a Heart Specialist?
Your First Cardiology Visit
Recovering from Heart Surgery
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Conditions We Treat
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Arrhythmias and Atrial Fibrillation
Chest Pain (Angina)
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Heart Valve Disease
> Peripheral Vascular Disease
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Heart Health: Prevention and Support