The peripheral vascular disease or PVD is the vascular condition affecting the blood vessels outside the heart and brain.
Most of the time it affects the legs, arms, stomach or kidneys and they can have mainly two causes.
One of them is functional which means that the disorders are not related to the blood vessel’s structure and they are caused by cold temperatures, stress or smoking. An example of this type of disease is Raynaud’s disease.
The other cause of PVD is organic, which means that the abnormalities are a result of structural changes in the blood vessels. The most common type of organic vascular disease is peripheral artery disease. Left untreated PVD can become life threatening.
One of the most common causes of peripheral vascular disease is the PAD, or peripheral artery disease. This condition is most of the times caused by atherosclerosis, a gradual process in which fatty material is building up on the arteries’ lining.
Atherosclerosis leads to the blockage or narrowing of the blood vessels which causes a restriction or a blockage of the blood flow through the blood vessel. When it is caused by atherosclerosis the condition is called atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease.
Treating atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease usually means treating the underlying cause, atherosclerosis. PVD may also be caused by blood clots (thrombus), diabetes, and inflammation of the arteries (such as arteritis or vasculitis) or infections with different types of bacteria.
Among the organic causes of the ailment are the structural defects which can be acquired at birth or with an unknown cause. PVD may also result after injury, from an accident, after surgery or even a bad fall. Occlusive peripheral vascular disease refers to the type of disease when the arteries in the arms and legs are obstructed from various reasons. Occlusive peripheral vascular disease may be a result of atherosclerosis, thrombus or embolism and left untreated may lead to acute or chronic ischemia of the legs.
In early stages, patients do not normally experience any symptoms. However, a person with PVD may experience pain in the limbs, numbness or paralysis in the affected arm or leg. Among other symptoms there is the change in color on the affected limb compared to the other, sores or wounds and sometimes the patient may notice diminished nail growth.
Treatment for PVD consists in specific medication, such as aspirin or other anti-platelets used to protect the patient’s heart and to thin the blood, but most of all it consists in a healthier style of life. Patients are recommended to quit smoking, to follow a healthy diet and to practice physical activity on a regular basis. Angioplasty and surgery are used as well to treat PVD.
Peripheral vascular disease is a serious medical condition which left untreated may lead to gangrenes and once they are set in, the amputation of the affected limb or digit is considered to be the only solution.