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What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Peripheral Vascular (or arterial) Disease (PVD) is a condition in which the blood vessels that supply to various parts of the body are narrowed due to the build-up of cholesterol in the lumen. The arteries of legs and pelvis are most commonly affected. It can be life-threatening if left untreated leading to heart attack or stroke.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

Most often no symptoms are not experienced. But the following symptoms may be experienced in some cases:

  • Numbness and pain in the legs
  • Reduced speed of healing of wounds of legs or sometimes failure to heal
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Reduced nail growth on toe
  • Reduced hair growth on legs
  • Difference in temperature of both the legs
  • Erectile dysfunction

What are the main causes?

Atherosclerosis is the major cause of PVD due to which cholesterol build-up occurs in the blood vessel. Other factors that may lead to PVD are:

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The diagnosis of PVD involves the following:

  • Preliminary tests
  • Study of detailed medical history
  • Physical examination, e.g., ankle brachial index
  • Further tests:Toe-tip treadmill exercise tests
  • Magnetic resonance angiography
  • Computed tomography angiography
  • Peripheral angiogram
  • Doppler ultrasound

Treatment includes lifestyle changes, medications or a combination of both. If the condition has progressed to a stage where medicines do not work, surgery may be suggested.

The lifestyle changes include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Regular exercise
  • Stress management
  • Practising mindfulness
  • Diabetes management
  • Blood pressure management

Medications prescribed include:

  • Medicines to lower the cholesterol levels
  • Antiplatelets to prevent clotting of blood
  • Medicines to manage high blood pressure

Surgical procedures to treat PVD are:

  • Atherectomy- removal of plaque or blood clot
  • Bypass- creating an alternate path for blood supply by attaching a graft of a healthy blood vessel
  • Balloon angioplasty
  1. Medicines for Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)


  1. Stanford Health Care [Internet]. Stanford Medicine, Stanford University; Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD).
  2. Columbia University Irwing Medical Center [Internet]. NY, USA; Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
  3. American Heart Association, American Stroke Association [internet]: Texas, USA AHA: What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Peripheral Arterial Disease.
  5. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Peripheral Artery Disease.
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