Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a disorder in the blood circulation caused by the narrowing or blocking of blood vessels. The blood vessels affected by PVD lie outside the heart and may afflict arteries, veins, or lymphatic vessels.

Associated Anatomy

Narrowing blood vessels results in decreased blood flow, especially to the brain and legs, thereby affecting these organs the most.


Peripheral vascular disease is caused by:

  • Plaque buildup inside the artery wall: Plaque formation decreases the blood flow to the limbs and reduces nutrients and oxygen available in the tissue. Blood clots form a layer in the arterial walls, narrowing the blood vessels and decreasing blood flow.
  • Blood vessel inflammation: PVD can occur when the blood vessels are inflamed due to infection or auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Cold temperature: Blood vessels tend to constrict and reduce blood flow to the skin in cold temperatures. This leads to increased blood pressure and can also cause peripheral vascular disease.
  • Injury to the arms or legs: Injuries on the arms or legs can cause a narrowing of arteries, thereby preventing blood from reaching the desired locations.

Signs or Symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease

  • Reduced hair growth on legs
  • Impotence
  • Numbness or weakness in muscles
  • Severe burning on toes with blue colour
  • Decreased mobility
  • Opaque toenails
  • Pain in toes at night while lying flat
  • Weak pulses
  • Leg cramping

Possible Peripheral Vascular Disease Treatment

  • Change in lifestyle: It is imperative to change your lifestyle to control PVD symptoms. Regular exercises and consuming proper nutrition are a must.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking is hazardous to health and causes the reduced blood flow in vessels. Therefore, it is advisable to quit smoking, as smoking is also associated with other diseases.
  • Take anticoagulants and beta-blockers: Anticoagulant drugs can prevent blood clots, and beta-blockers slow the heart rate & lower the pressure.
  • Take Cilostazol: Cilostazol helps to relax arteries, allows them to enlarge, and increases the blood flow.
  • Angioplasty: A catheter may be inserted to create a large opening in an artery to increase the blood flow.
  • Vascular surgery: In this surgery, a bypass graft using a blood vessel is placed in the area of the narrowed artery for rerouting the blood flow.

Risk Factors

  • Age: If you are above 50, you have more chances of developing PVD.
  • Obesity: By accumulating more fats, the cholesterol plaque slowly buildups up. Over time, this plaque hardens and blocks the blood flow.
  • History of heart disease: Those who have a history of heart disease have a greater risk of complications arising from peripheral vascular disease.
  • Diabetes: Individuals who have diabetes are also prone to PVD.
  • Familial high blood pressure and cholesterol: High blood pressure also causes plaque formation in the artery walls. Due to a large amount of plaque, your arteries become narrowed. Family history of high blood pressure and heart diseases are indicators for taking due precautions.

Stages of the Condition

There are different stages of PVD. About 20% of individuals above the age of 60 years have PVD, encompassing both asymptomatic and symptomatic diseases.

Below are the different stages of PVD:

  • Stage 0: Asymptomatic
  • Stage 1: Mild lameness
  • Stage 2: Moderate lameness
  • Stage 3: Critical lameness
  • Stage 4: Pain
  • Stage 5: Ischemic ulceration
  • Stage 6: Severe Ischemic ulceration

Typical Test for PVD

The most commonly used test for PVD is the Ankle/Brachial Index Test. In this test, the physician compares the systolic blood pressure in your ankle to the systolic blood pressure in your arm. The blood pressure ratio in your ankle and arm indicates the PVD risk.

Primary Prevention

  • Smoking Cessation: The primary prevention of PVD in the initial stage is to stop smoking. It is recommended to avoid smoking because it also prevents other critical illnesses like lung cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke.
  • Reduce fat and cholesterol in your diet: Fat and cholesterol-rich food items encourage plaque formation in the artery walls. Therefore, reducing these items in your diet can prove beneficial.
  • Weight loss: It is also essential to maintain a proper weight to prevent symptoms of PVD.

Secondary Prevention

  • Correction of hypertension: It is essential to control your blood pressure to avoid the recurrence of PVD symptoms.
  • Take proper medicine: If your healthcare provider recommends medications to reduce your risks of blood clots, take them on time.
  • Control diabetes: An increase in blood sugar level affects the lining around the cells in the blood vessels and leads to stiffness in the blood vessels. This causes hindrance in the blood flow. Thus, controlling diabetes helps maintain the flexibility of blood vessels.

Epidemiology of PVD

Peripheral vascular disease is uncommon until middle age, but the progress is rapid after that. The occurrence has been determined to be higher in men than women.

Expected Prognosis

PVD can give rise to severe health issues such as permanent damage to heart muscles, heart attack, and stroke if left untreated. In extreme cases, the patient may need to undergo amputation.

Natural Progression

Once you are diagnosed with PVD, there is no cure. However, you can control and decrease the symptoms with the help of medicines and lifestyle changes.


PVD arises due to the formation of plaque inside the artery wall. Changes in your lifestyle and embracing a healthier balance go a long way to help you lead a better life. These include controlling your weight & blood sugar levels, quitting smoking, regular exercise, and reducing fat intake.


Several complications associated with PVD include severe pain, poor wound healing, bone infection, restricted mobility, tissue death, and stroke.

Our BLK-Max Medical Experts

If you are facing any similar signs or symptoms please contact the BLK-Max team to schedule an appointment at : +91-11-30403040

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