Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), also known as peripheral artery disease (PAD) or peripheral artery occlusive disease (PAOD), is a collective term for all conditions caused by the obstruction of large peripheral arteries, which can result from atherosclerosis, an inflammatory processes leading to the narrowing of a blood vessel or tubular organ (stenosis), a blockage (embolism) or blood clot (thrombus) formation. PVD can cause severe or chronic ischemia (lack of blood supply), typically of the legs.
PVD is divided into four stages:
Known causes include:
If you suspect you might have PVD, schedule an appointment right away to express your concerns. If your doctor agrees with your suspicion, he/she should perform an ankle brachial pressure index (ABPI or ABI). An ABPI measures the fall in blood pressure to the arteries supplying blood to the legs.
If your ABI results come back abnormal, the next step would be imaging of the affected limb, such as a lower limb Doppler ultrasound, angiography or angioplasty. As an alternative to angioplasty, CT scanners provide direct imaging of the arterial system. In severe cases of PVD, arterial bypass surgery may be required.