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Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease: Introduction

Peripheral vascular disease, also called PVD, includes a group of diseases that cause a narrowing of the blood vessels that are outside of the brain and heart. There are two general underlying causes of peripheral vascular disease. These include diseases in which blood vessels are narrowed by intermittent blood vessel spasms, such as Raynaud's phenomenon and Raynaud's disease. The other type of peripheral vascular disease is caused by peripheral artery disease, in which blood vessels are narrowed by atherosclerosis, a build-up of fatty deposits in the peripheral arteries.

A steady supply of oxygen and nutrients are critical to the health of the cells and tissues of the body. Narrowing of the blood vessels that occurs in peripheral vascular disease interferes with this supply. This is called ischemia. In ischemia, cells are unable to reproduce normally, recover effectively from injury, and fight infection. This can lead to the complications of peripheral vascular disease, such as the development of sores or lesions that do not heal and infection. If peripheral vascular disease is left untreated, gangrene (death of the tissues) can occur.

People at risk for peripheral vascular disease include people with underlying diseases or behaviors that cause damage or narrowing of the blood vessels. These include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. People with peripheral vascular disease are also more likely to develop atherosclerosis and narrowing of the arteries of the brain and heart due to fatty build-up in these arteries. This dramatically increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Symptoms of peripheral vascular disease vary depending on the underlying cause. Typical symptoms include pain in the legs with walking that goes away with rest or color changes in the fingers or toes. Without treatment, symptoms of peripheral vascular disease can become more severe and lead to complications. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of peripheral vascular disease.

Making a diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease includes completing a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and a physical examination. If peripheral artery disease is suspected, diagnostic testing includes imaging tests, such as an ultrasound and angiography. An angiography reveals obstructed or narrowed arteries and can show blood flow. A diagnosis of Raynaud's disease can often be made based on symptoms and an exam.

A battery of other tests are also performed to evaluate for other conditions that commonly underlie peripheral vascular disease, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

It is possible that a diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease can be missed or delayed because the symptoms may be mild, assumed to be normal, and similar to symptoms of other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of peripheral vascular disease.

If caught early, peripheral vascular disease can often be successfully treated before the development of complications. Treatment varies depending on the specific type of peripheral vascular disease. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of peripheral vascular disease. ...more »

Peripheral vascular disease: Disease of arteries supplying the legs or sometimes arms. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Peripheral vascular disease is available below.

Peripheral vascular disease: Symptoms

Symptoms of peripheral vascular disease vary depending on the specific type. Symptoms can also differ between individuals. In all types of peripheral vascular disease, symptoms and complications are due to narrowed arteries, which lead to an insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to affected cells and tissue.

Typical symptoms of peripheral artery disease include pain in ...more symptoms »

Peripheral vascular disease: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for peripheral vascular disease employs a multifaceted approach. This includes preventive care aimed at minimizing the risk factors and underlying causes of peripheral artery disease, Raynaud's phenomenon and Raynaud's disease. Preventive measures include regular medical care to monitor and treat high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, ...more treatments »

Peripheral vascular disease: Misdiagnosis

Peripheral vascular disease frequently goes undiagnosed until complications occur. In addition, symptoms of peripheral vascular disease are similar to and often mistaken for symptoms of other conditions and diseases, such as aging, excessive exercise, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, leg cramps, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Peripheral vascular disease

Treatments for Peripheral vascular disease

Wrongly Diagnosed with Peripheral vascular disease?

Peripheral vascular disease: Related Patient Stories

Peripheral vascular disease: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Peripheral vascular disease.

Types of Peripheral vascular disease

Diagnostic Tests for Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Peripheral vascular disease:

Causes of Peripheral vascular disease

More information about causes of Peripheral vascular disease:

Disease Topics Related To Peripheral vascular disease

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Peripheral vascular disease:

Misdiagnosis and Peripheral vascular disease

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. See causes more »

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Peripheral vascular disease

Medical research articles related to Peripheral vascular disease include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Peripheral vascular disease: Animations

Prognosis for Peripheral vascular disease

Research about Peripheral vascular disease

Visit our research pages for current research about Peripheral vascular disease treatments.

Clinical Trials for Peripheral vascular disease

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Peripheral vascular disease include:

Statistics for Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease: Broader Related Topics

Peripheral vascular disease Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

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Definitions of Peripheral vascular disease:

General or unspecified diseases of the blood vessels outside the heart. It is for diseases of the peripheral as opposed to the cardiac circulation. - (Source - Diseases Database)


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