Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease (pvd) is a disorder of blood circulation affecting arteries. The resulting widening and narrowing of blood vessels can cause pain and exhaustion. Often, increased pain is associated with exercise and resting can offer relief. Pain is commonly experienced in the legs, but other parts of the body can be affected, too.


Noticeable pvd related flare-ups may show up as pain in legs and feet when lying in bed, reduced hair growth on legs, thin or pale skin on legs and/or feet, blue skin on toes, opaque toenails, numb or heavy-feeling muscles. Severe cases, requiring emergency treatment, may materialize as a very weak pulse, no sensation or gangrene. Left untreated, severe cases could require amputation.

There are two different types of this condition: functional and organic.

Functional Peripheral Vascular Disease: This condition refers to the physical widening and narrowing of vessels due to spasms. While vessels do widen and narrow naturally when responding to stress, different temperatures and medications, pvd is the outcome of an exaggeration of the process.

Organic Peripheral Vascular Disease: With organic pvd, there is actual damage to the vessels resulting from plaque, inflammation or damage. Arteriosclerosis can lead to plaque build up and eventually clots which may result in damage/loss of limbs or organs when not properly treated. Smoking and high blood pressure are also negative influences.

Risk Factors:

  • Increased for smokers
  • People over 50
  • Overweight individuals
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Poor eating habits
  • Inactive lifestyle

Be sure to mention any peripheral vascular disease symptoms to your physician. The key to successful treatment is the early identification. The ability to walk distances without pain will reveal whether lifestyle changes are sufficient courses of action.

Your physician may recommend an exercise routine and diet modification. Quitting smoking is recommended. When lifestyle changes do not appear adequate to control the condition, medications may be recommended. Blockages may require surgery.