Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of circulatory diseases. These diseases negatively affect arteries (carrying blood away from the heart), veins (pushing blood to the heart), and lymphatic vessels (carrying lymph away from tissues).

There are several diseases that fall under the PVD umbrella which affect the legs and feet. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a specific condition that blocks or narrows arteries, thereby diminishing the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the legs. This may result in leg pain, cramps, or aches while walking which improves after resting.

Venous insufficiency causes vein valves to dysfunction. These one-way valves are meant to push blood back to the heart. When they do not work properly, blood flows backwards, and collects in the legs. This can cause discoloration and swelling in the legs and ankles, a tight feeling in the calves, painful, itchy legs, or open sores that do not heal properly. It may also lead to swollen and discolored veins (varicose veins).

Thrombosis is another disease within the PVD group. This is a potentially dangerous condition where blood clots form and impede proper blood flow. In Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), clots may break off and travel through the bloodstream into the lungs which may lead to a (sometimes fatal) pulmonary embolism.

Aneurysms are potentially dangerous enlargements that form within blood vessel walls in the feet or legs. Peripheral aneurysms can cause numbness, swelling, or pain in the legs, and may even prevent blood flow to the limbs or brain.

Lymphedema is a blockage of lymph vessels, preventing drainage of tissues, which may cause painful swelling in the legs and feet.

Diseases in the peripheral arterial disease category are potentially dangerous, and even life-threatening in certain instances. Call our office right away if you are exhibiting symptoms, or otherwise suspect that you may have PVD.

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