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What Is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2016
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Peripheral Vascular Disease, also known as PVD, is a common disorder affecting the arteries in the arms and legs. This disease is sometimes called Peripheral Artery Disease. The condition affects more men than women, and the likelihood of developing it increases as a person ages. When the arteries leading to the extremities become blocked, doctors diagnose PVD.

Symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease include pain and weakness in the extremities. The individual may also complain of muscle cramps. Other symptoms of PVD are sores that either don't heal or that take a long time to do so. The hands or feet may have a bluish tinge or feel colder to the touch than other parts of the body. These signs are due to a reduction in circulation to the area.

The blockage to the arteries that is characteristic of PVD is caused by a buildup of fatty materials inside the walls of the arteries. Known as plaque, it builds up over time. As a result, the affected arm or leg doesn't isn't provided with the food or oxygen it needs to stay healthy. If the condition is not diagnosed promptly, the body's cells start to die.

Peripheral Vascular Disease is most likely to affect men over the age of 50. In addition, African Americans are more susceptible than people of other races to developing PVD. Being overweight also increases your likelihood of having blocked arteries.

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Family history plays a part in determining risk factors for PVD as well. If you have a personal or family health history that includes heart attack, stroke, or vascular disease, then your level of risk is higher than for someone who doesn't share this history. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it's more likely that you will develop this disorder as well.

Treating Peripheral Vascular Disease can take a number of forms. If you are a smoker, your doctor will probably advise you to quit. You will probably be told that you need to be more physically active as well. Eating a balanced diet and limiting your intake of saturated fat will help to improve your overall health and reduce the buildup up of plaque in our arteries.

Your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat PVD. Bypass surgery is an option when the damage to the artery is extensive, and other treatments have failed. Only in extreme cases where gangrene has set in would amputation be recommended for the condition.

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