Peripheral vascular treatment
You could have PVD
Many people think they have arthritis when they really have peripheralvascular disease (PVD), a common circulatory condition. If you are 50 or older and have a history of heart disease or diabetes, and one of the following — leg pain, aching, or cramping that comes on with exercise — you may want to discuss these symptoms with your doctor and schedule a screening for PVD.
PVD is a common circulation problem in which the arteries that carry blood to the legs or arms, or other vital organs, become narrowed or clogged. PVD, also called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), or "hardening of the arteries," is not a normal part of aging. People over age 50 should seek medical help if you have one or more of the following:
- difficulty walking
- leg or hip pain
- aching or cramping that comes on with walking or exercising
- numbness and tingling in the lower legs and feet
- ulcers or sores on the legs or feet that won't heal
- skin discoloration
Early diagnosis of PVD is key, as less severe cases can often be treated with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Early treatment of PVD may prevent heart attack and stroke. Although men are somewhat more likely than women to have PVD, the disease affects everyone. About 1 in 20 people over the age 50, or 8 million people in the United States, have PVD. More than half the people with PVD experience leg pain, numbness, or other symptoms, but many people dismiss these signs and don't seek medical help. Only about half of those with symptoms have been diagnosed with PVD and are seeing a doctor for treatment. Those who are at highest risk are:
- over the age of 50
- people who do not exercise
- people who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- people with a family history of heart or vascular disease
Your doctor can refer you to an interventional radiologist who can treat PVD and other conditions using minimally invasive procedures that are often alternatives to open surgery.
Learn more about what to expect during treatment for peripheralvascular disease.