|Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a condition in which the arteries or veins carrying blood to or from the arms or legs become narrowed or clogged. The feet and legs may be more affected than the hands and arms. The most common symptom is leg cramps or pain that becomes worse with walking or other activity, and better with rest (intermittent claudication). Other symptoms may include leg numbness, tingling, or weakness. The feet may be cold or discolored, with loss of hair. However, up to 75% of those with PVD have no symptoms.|
Disruption of circulation in the peripheral veins can be caused by failure of blood to move with sufficient speed through the veins (venostasis), or from overly active blood clotting (hypercoagulability). It can be a result of immobility or prolonged inactivity, trauma or serious injury, orthopedic surgery, aging, or dehydration. The most common cause of narrowing of the peripheral arteries is atherosclerosis, which used to be called "hardening of the arteries." Atherosclerosis develops gradually as cholesterol and scar tissue build up, forming a substance called plaque that clogs the blood vessels. Other causes of narrowed arteries include trauma, spasm of the smooth muscles in artery walls, and structural defects in the arteries that are present at birth. Individuals with diabetes are 8 times more likely to develop PVD than the general population (Martin).
Risk: The leading cause of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is atherosclerosis (Levy). Risk factors for both PVD and atherosclerosis include smoking, diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and family history of heart or vascular disease. Prevalence increases with age, such that over 70 years of age, 20% will have PVD (Regensteiner).
Thirty to forty percent of those with PVD are smokers (Regensteiner). Overall, PVD is slightly more common in men than women.
Incidence and Prevalence: Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) affects about 12% of individuals (Regensteiner), or about 8 to 12 million in the US (Levy; Martin).
Source: Medical Disability Advisor