Your cardiovascular system is more than just your heart. It’s a whole network of arteries and veins running through your entire body. These pathways carry blood to and from your heart. When these vital highways are congested, your blood flow slows. Think of it like a traffic jam. Plaque can form and lead to blood clots and peripheral vascular disease—known as PVD.
How PVD Affects Your Arteries and Veins
The arteries carry blood away from your heart, supplying oxygen to the tissue in your body. Veins then bring the low-oxygen blood back towards your heart. Your body’s system of blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries, is actually more than 60,000 miles long!
PVD stands for peripheral vascular disease, which refers to disease in your cardiovascular system’s peripheral areas—the veins and arteries furthest from your heart. Most often, PVD affects your legs. It is most commonly caused by plaque build-up, known as atherosclerosis. Initially, patients may experience leg pain, weak pulse, and slowed hair growth.
Risk factors for PVD include age, diabetes, obesity, and smoking. Additionally, a history of heart disease, high cholesterol, or blood pressure can contribute.
How Can A PVD Specialist Help Me?
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevents (CDC), approximately 8.5 million people age 40 and older in the United States have PAD (the most common form of PVD). If left untreated, PVD can lead to potentially life-threatening complications. At the minimum, you may experience pain, restricted mobility, and wounds that do not heal. More seriously, PVD can increase your chances of stroke as well as amputation. Visit a PVD specialist as soon as you suspect PVD symptoms. It’s a crucial first step in treating your condition and protecting your quality of life.
If it is suspected that you might have PVD, your cardiologist will perform a series of simple tests to confirm. First, your doctor will perform a physical test, checking for pulses and listening for any sounds. Next, a simple and painless test called an ankle brachial index will compare the blood flow in your arms and legs to determine any potential blockages. Thermal imaging may also be used, as well as ultrasounds to evaluate blood flow. Ultimately, an angiogram will be done if needed.
Your cardiologist will recommend the best treatment for your case of PVD. PVD can be treated through lifestyle modifications first, followed by blood-thinning medications if needed. CIS also specializes in minimally-invasive (non-surgical) procedures to treat PVD. An angiogram via catheter in a cath lab can be helpful to both diagnose and treat PVD. During an angiogram, stents or balloons may be used to open the blockages and bring blood flow back to the legs. In more extreme cases, bypass surgery may be necessary.
Trust the PVD Specialists
The team of cardiologists at Cardiovascular Institute of the South provides expert care for PVD. And with more than 20 locations and virtual appointments available, CIS is convenient choice. We’re here to make it easy to take care of your cardiovascular health. Request an appointment with one of our specialists today.