Peripheral Vascular Disease Oakville

Peripheral Vascular Disease

What is Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)?

Peripheral vascular disease is a circulation disorder, whereby blood vessels outside of the heart and brain become narrowed, and blood flow is significantly compromised to organs and limbs. This can be due to arteriosclerosis (commonly called “hardening of the arteries”) or it may be due to blood vessel spasms.  In arteriosclerosis, the narrowing is due to plaque buildup in the blood vessels of the body, in a similar fashion that plaque can build up in the coronary arteries, and cause a heart attack. As plaque buildup in the blood vessels of the body worsens over time, blood clots can develop and a complete blockage of the artery may occur. This is an emergency situation as blood flow and oxygen will be compromised to vital organs, and may lead to amputation of digits or limbs if left untreated. It could ultimately be fatal, without prompt medical attention. 

Peripheral Arterial Disease is actually a subtype of Peripheral Vascular Disease, but sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) develops only in the arteries, which are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to feed the vital organs and limbs. PAD is the most common form of PVD, so the terms are sometimes used synonymously.

graphic showing Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Risk Factors for Developing Peripheral Arterial Disease

person holding their leg in pain due to Peripheral Arterial Disease

What are the symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Many people have no symptoms at all.  Some people experience muscle pain and cramping in the legs when walking, particularly in the calf muscle (intermittent claudication). Others can experience this claudicatory pain in one or both hips, buttocks or thighs. The pain is relieved by rest initially, but can become so severe over time that physical activity becomes challenging and the pain is present even while resting. 

Other signs and symptoms of Peripheral Arterial disease include:

  • The skin on the lower legs may become shiny, with loss of hair or slower growth of hair on the lower legs. There may be a skin color change (pallor) on the lower legs or feet.  
  • Coldness of the lower legs or feet
  • Numbness or weakness of the lower legs or feet
  • Delayed or slow nail growth on the toes
  • The pulses in the legs and/or feet may be weak or absent
  • Non-healing sores on the toes, feet or legs

Still have a question about peripheral vascular disease? Speak to your doctor about a referral to the Chahal Cardiovascular Centre for a cardiovascular consultation.