Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), also known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), includes all diseases caused by obstruction of the large arteries in the arms and legs. PVD can result from a number of causes including: atherosclerosis, inflammatory processes that lead to stenosis, an embolism, or thrombus formation. The result is an inadequate supply of blood (known as ischemia) which causes tissue death.
- Claudication (pain, weakness, numbness, or cramping in muscles due to decreased blood flow) with exercise that improves with rest.
- Any sores, wounds, or ulcers (on legs or arms) that heal slowly or not at all
- Noticeable change in color (developing a blue or pale color) or change in temperature (becoming cold to the touch) when compared to the other limb
- Loss of hair and lack of nail growth on affected limb and digits
- Impotence or erectile dysfunction
- Smoking - tobacco, in any form, is the number one cause of PVD. Smokers have up to ten times the risk as nonsmokers of developing PVD. Exposure to second-hand smoke also promotes changes in the lining of blood vessels which is a cause of atherosclerosis.
- People with Diabetes mellitus have two to four times increased risk of PVD due to cellular dysfunction in peripheral arteries. People with diabetes account for up to 70% of nontraumatic amputations due to PVD.
- Dyslipidemia is the name for an elevation of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, each associated with increased PVD. Correction of dyslipidemia by diet and/or medication is associated with a major improvement in short-term rates of heart attack and stroke.
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is correlated with an increase in the risk of developing PVD, as well as with other types of cerebrovascular events (heart attack and stroke).
- Risk of PVD also increases if a person is over the age of 50, African American, male, obese, or has a personal history of vascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.