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Peripheral vascular disease, or peripheral artery disease, is caused by the same atherosclerotic plaque that causes coronary artery disease. Frequently atherosclerosis is not confined to one artery but may involve arteries in other areas as well. Some of the more commonly affected peripheral areas are the arteries in the legs, arms, kidneys and neck. Some patients may have both coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease.
As the internal lining of the artery thickens from the atherosclerotic plaque, the blood vessel becomes increasingly constricted and blood flow diminishes. Therefore, the symptoms you may experience depend on what artery is affected and how severely the blood flow is reduced.
Some of the symptoms you may experience in the affected areas are:
Clinical studies have identified factors that increase the risk of peripheral vascular disease. Some of these factors cannot be changed while others can be managed to greatly reduce your risk of the disease. They are as follows:
If your doctor suspects that you have peripheral vascular disease or if you have symptoms of the disease, several tests are performed to diagnosis it. Such diagnostic tests include:
Many treatments can be used to improve blood flow through the peripheral arteries. The latest interventions for treating peripheral vascular disease can bring relief and are more cost effective than surgery. Most procedures require no more than an overnight hospital stay, and patients enjoy an early return to most normal activities. Techniques available to you include:
All of these techniques treat the build-up of plaque by either removing it, compressing it or displacing it. During these procedures, the physician will periodically inject a contrast dye and take x-ray pictures to determine whether or not the artery is sufficiently open. If the blockage is extremely long or has become very hard and calcified with time, it may be resistant to any of these interventions. In these cases, surgery may be required to bypass the problem area.
Non-invasive interventions may also be used to treat PVD. These interventions include:
Peripheral artery disease is a type of peripheral vascular disease. People with peripheral vascular disease have problems that alter blood flow through both the arteries and veins. Those people with peripheral artery disease have problems only with blood flow through the arteries.