Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)

Background 

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is the circulatory disease or disorder which affects the smaller and medium sized vessels of the body. In this condition, the arteries become narrowed and makes the blood flow difficult in the affected area of the body.

Usually the legs get affected the most by this problem because they stop receiving sufficient blood flow that is required by them which in turn leads to pain and discomfort in legs while walking, climbing or doing any other physical work. 

Although this disease can be cured with the help of lifestyle change, medication, or in some cases surgery, but to stay in the safe spot, one should quit the bad habits and make health their foremost priority. Especially the diabetic patients should take care of their health and quit smoking because both of these are the triggering cause of PVD. 

Types of Peripheral vascular disease (PVD):

There are two major types of PVD: 

  1. Functional PVD

In functional PVD, the structure of blood vessel changes due to body’s internal factor like structural changes and Neuro intrinsic signals. 

  1. Organic PVD

Organic PVD is caused by deposition of plaques  which leading narrowing of the  blood vessel structure. 

Symptoms of Peripheral vascular disease (PVD): 

The symptoms of PVD do not always appear in all patients. The pain often comes and go and most of us ignore such pain giving it a name of ageing. Some of the difficulties include pain & heaviness in the legs, especially in thighs & calves during walking, climbing, or doing other physical activities. Some patients even feel the pain while taking a rest but, this one is usually the alarming sign. 

Common symptoms of PVD include:

  1. Numbness or weakness in the legs
  2. Slower growth of toenails
  3. A constant pain in buttock
  4. Burning or aching pain in the feet or toes
  5. Wound healing takes more time in legs & feet. 
  6. Peculiar change in colouring the skin of the limbs (pale, bluish, dark reddish)
  7. Ulcer on feet. 
  8. Loss or slow growth of hair on the legs

Causes of Peripheral vascular disease (PVD):

  1. Peripheral vascular disease is often caused by atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, plaque is formed due to the excess deposit of fatty material inside the arteries and in result, it blocks the artery walls and make the blood flow difficult. In some cases, the blood flows gets completely blocked. 
  2. Some birth defects affect the structure of  blood vessels which can reduce the blood flow. 
  3. Diabetes is one of the most common cause of  PVD, diabetic patients has high blood pressure and high fat level in blood, which can damage the blood vessel and makes it weaker. 
  4. Some infections can damage the blood vessel in particular and increase the risk of PVD. 
  5. Blood clots and traumatic injuries are some of the other causes of PVD. 

Risk factor of Peripheral vascular disease (PVD):

There are some factors which increase the risk of developing this disease. Some of those factors are: 

  1. Regular Smoking
  2. Diabetes
  3. obesity 
  4. Lack of physical activity 
  5. High blood pressure
  6. High cholesterol
  7. Age over 50 years
  8. A family history of heart diseases, peripheral artery disease, or stroke

Diagnosis and investigations 

The chronic non resolving pain with routine medications and symptoms explained are indications to consult with your clinician or surgeon. They will do the complete examination and advised you following investigations.

  1. Blood investigations to check your diabetes and lipid profile 
  2. Ultrasound Colour Doppler of the limbs to assess the flow of the limbs, any blockage of the vessels and flow rate of the blood 
  3. Contrast enhanced computerised tomography ( CT scan) remain the investigation of choice in chronic cases to give complete map of the arteries of the limb. It further helps to plan the appropriate medical or surgical management. 

Treatments for PVD:

The treatment of PVD depends on the cause of peripheral vascular diseases, the condition of it and many other factors. Some cases of PVD can be cured by lifestyle changes, while others may require medication or surgeries. 

Medical treatment – It involves mainly lifestyle changes, control of causative things, medications which help in dilation and increase the blood flow of the small vessels of the affected area. The treatment continues for longtime and has to be appropriately followed with your clinician. 

Surgical treatment – The aim of the surgical treatment is to restore the normal blood flow to affected areas. Conventional surgery involves placement of arterial grafts or bypass grafts to restore the blood supply to affected area. 

With the advancements in vascular angiography, this procedure can be performed by cardiac and vascular surgeons who expertise in peripheral vascular angioplasties and plaques removal techniques which give the patients advantages of minimal scar and early recovery. 

Preventions of Peripheral vascular disease (PVD):

  1. Some factors increase the risk of peripheral disease, while all of them cannot be changed, but controlling certain habits and ensuring the proper care can help a person reduce the risk of PVD, some of these prevention ways includes: 
  2. Avoid smoking
  3. Maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Control high blood pressure.
  5. Exercise daily 
  6. Control high cholesterol; there are certain ways to control high cholesterol, consult your doctor for the same. Triggering food increases the risk.  
  7. Diabetic patients should control their blood sugar level as diabetes increases the risk of blood vessel problems. Get your sugar level tested frequently and take possible measures to control it.

To know more, consult our team of the best team of cardiac and vascular  surgeons at Surgeons House Limited (SHL) available at different global locations. Please click this link for more details. 

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