Peripheral vascular disease can significantly increase one's risk of heart attack and stroke. As a top cardiologist in the Park Slope Neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Ijaz Ahmad of Park Slope Cardiac and Diagnostic Services helps patients receive the necessary treatment to improve their health and reduce health risks.
Peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, is a progressive disease that causes narrowing or blockage of the veins and arteries located outside the heart, including the arms, legs, and other organs.
PAD stands for peripheral artery disease, a type of PVD that affects only the arteries, most commonly the arteries of the legs and feet.
The most common cause of peripheral vascular disease is atherosclerosis, a condition that occurs when sticky plaque builds up along the inside walls of blood vessels, restricting the flow of blood and causing vessels to become stiff. This type of PVD most commonly affects the legs and feet, resulting in swelling and pain or aching. Atherosclerosis can also cause PVD in the carotid arteries, the arteries that supply the brain with blood. PVD can also be caused by structural defects in the vessels or connective tissues, injury, or infection.
People with these risk factors may be at an increased risk for PVD:
In addition, people who are overweight or obese, those who lead sedentary lifestyles, and people who smoke are also at an increased risk of developing PVD.
PVD is diagnosed with a physical exam and medical history, followed by imaging tests using ultrasound to evaluate the blood vessels and look for signs of blockage. Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, treatment of PVD can include lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, becoming more physically active, and quitting smoking, combined with medication to prevent clots. Minimally-invasive procedures may be used to widen areas of the blood vessels that have become narrowed or, when clotting is a risk, to place tiny filters in the vessels to prevent clots from traveling to the heart, lungs or brain. People with PVD will need ongoing management to prevent serious issues like heart attack or stroke.
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