Our bodies change as we age; that’s the natural progression of life. While some changes like greying hair are to be expected, others may be signs of an underlying health condition. One thing you should never ignore is changes in your body that may be symptomatic of vascular disorders, the most common of which is Peripheral Vascular Disease.
What is PVD?
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is a serious health condition that affects the veins in the arms and legs. Also known as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), it causes blockage, spasming, or narrowing of the veins which may cause clots in the arms or legs and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
PVD can be divided into two types. Organic Peripheral Vascular Disease is caused by inflammation, plaque build-up, or tissue damage that causes narrowed veins in the extremities. This form is potentially dangerous if untreated, as it can lead to complete blockage causing serious health issues.
Functional Peripheral Artery Disease is usually temporary and caused by external factors such as temper change or erroneous brain signals. This form of PVD/PAD often occurs as a symptom of hypothermia, but may also be caused by drug use or using machines or tools that cause the body to vibrate. Functional PVD causes no physical damage to the blood vessels themselves. However, if left untreated, functional PVD can lead to life-threatening health conditions.
Who Does PVD Affect?
PVD affects one in 20 Americans over the age of 50. People with the highest risk of developing Peripheral Artery Disease include smokers, people with high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Certain health conditions may also increase one’s risk of developing Peripheral Vascular Disease. These conditions include lupus, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases. Insulin resistance can also increase your odds.
What are the Symptoms of PVD?
Symptoms and severity vary from person to person. The most common symptoms include pain, aches, and cramps in the legs while walking, called claudication. Cramps can occur in the buttock, calf, hip, or thigh, and usually go away with rest.
In cases which PVD is left untreated and allowed to worsen, symptoms become more severe. Pain lingers for longer and can be triggered while laying down. Other symptoms include:
- Paleness, reddened or bluish skin on the legs or arms
- Coolness or burning in the toes
- Skin that is cool to the touch or feels thin on the limbs
- Hair loss on the arms and legs
- Slow healing wounds on the limbs
- Muscular atrophy of the limbs
Because of how common PVD/PAD is, access to treatment for Peripheral Vascular Disease in Miami is important.
Treatment for PVD
Proper care for Peripheral Artery Disease begins with diagnosis. Your physician can confirm PAD through:
- Angiography: using colored dye to identify blood vessel blockage
- Ankle-Brachial Index: measuring one’s blood pressure at the ankles and comparing the readings to blood pressure at the arms. Measurements will be taken during rest and after physical activity.
- Computerized Tomography Angiography (CTA scan): digital imaging of the body’s blood vessels, showing narrowed or blocked veins.
- Ultrasound: using soundwaves to see blood circulation throughout the body.
Following confirmation, your physician may suggest a variety of treatment options depending on your specific case. For some, lifestyle changes may be enough to improve or eliminate the condition. Others may require medication or minimally invasive surgery.
Palm Vascular offers outpatient vascular surgery in Miami that will have you out the door and enjoying life in just a few short hours. Call us today to find out how we can help you!