Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) involves the systemic arteries and veins, as opposed the coronary arteries and is typically caused by atherosclerotic lesions in one or more of the peripheral vessels (most commonly in legs). Many sufferers of PVD have long standing risk factors for coronary artery disease and is much more common in diabetic individuals.

One of the major symptoms of PVD is muscular pain which is caused by ischaemia affecting the peripheral arteries and veins. This type of ischaemia is known as CLAUDICATION. Other symptoms include sores, wounds or ulcers that are slow to heal or do not heal at all due to limited blood supply to the area. Quite often the limbs can appear blue (oxygen starvation) and cool again due to poor blood flow to the area.

One of the highest risk factors for PVD is smoking. Other risk factors include coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension and increased total cholesterol.

Treatment of the disease again depends on severity. It ranges from conservative measures such as smoking cessation and increase physical activity, to medication such as Aspirin, Clopidogrel and statins to reduce the incidence of clots and cholesterol formation. In more severe cases, angioplasty of the peripheral vessels can be undertaken as well as bypass grafting. In the most severe of cases, where gangrene forms, amputation may have to be considered. The key is to act early with the onset of symptoms to reduce the progression of the disease.