Peripheral Vascular Disease

What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is a form of atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries, and is a progressive disease process.  It can result in blockages in arteries of the brain, arms, kidneys, and legs. Atherosclerosis is caused when fatty substances build up inside the artery walls over time and create an occlusion which restricts proper blood flow. In the peripheral or non-heart vessels, this is most likely to occur in the iliac arteries (lower abdomen leading to the legs), the femoral and popliteal arteries (legs), the renal arteries (kidneys) and the carotid arteries (in the neck leading to the brain) and subclavian arteries (arms).

Causes of PVD
PVD refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and brain when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis.  Lifestyle changes to lower your risk include:

  • Stop smoking (smokers are 2 to 25 times more likely to get PAD).
  • Control diabetes.
  • Control blood pressure.
  • Be physically active
  • Eat a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet.

Symptoms of PVD
When organs and muscles in the body receive an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood, they literally become starved and alert you to this fact by producing pain. If the blockage occurs in the arteries supplying the legs, the resulting symptom is a cramping pain in the hips, thighs or calf muscle and can limit even casual walking. If the pain is relieved with rest, we call this condition "intermittent claudication ". If blood circulation becomes so severely restricted that the legs and feet are perpetually starved for nutrition, ulcers or gangrene -- death of the tissue -- can occur.

Treatment for PVD
Percutaneous transluminal interventions for the treatment of acute and chronic PVD include angioplasty, stenting, and atherectomy. When compared to surgical intervention, percutaneous procedures generally offer the potential for reduced risk, quicker recovery, and overall cost-effectiveness.

Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to dilate (widen) narrowed or blocked peripheral arteries. A thin tube called a catheter with a deflated balloon on its tip is passed into the narrowed artery segment. After the balloon is inflated to expand the artery, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is withdrawn.

Stenting is a non-surgical procedure where a tiny metal coil is expanded inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area and is left in place to keep the artery open.

Atherectomy is a non-surgical procedure that inserts a tiny device on the end of a catheter inside the artery and the plaque is "shaved" away.

For more information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of peripheral vascular disease or to make an appointment with a CIVT physician call 212.305.7060.

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