Peripheral Vascular Disease | Understanding the Basics
Peripheral vascular disease (or PVD) is one of the leading causes of disability in those over age 60. In fact, the condition is estimated to affect 12-20% of people within that age group—affecting more than 8.5 million people nationwide.
The disorder causes arteries to become constricted due to the build-up of plaque over time. PVD is often correlated with smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. PVD can be dangerous if it is not properly diagnosed or treated. If an artery becomes too narrow or is blocked, the result can be tissue damage, ulceration and eventually amputation.
Here Are Our Answers to Your Peripheral Vascular Disease Questions
Thankfully, there are several ways to screen for and treat peripheral vascular disease. If you notice pain that occurs when you are walking or doing other activities—especially in the legs and feet—that subsides when you discontinue movement, you may want to talk with your medical provider about your screening options. Especially if you have other risk factors for PVD. Though this is not necessarily a sign of an emergency, these symptoms should not be ignored.
What Are the Risk Factors of PVD?
There are several risk factors for PVD, including family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Those over the age of 50 are most at risk and men are slightly more likely to have PVD than women. Obesity, as well as inactive or sedentary lifestyles, are also known risks, as well as a history of smoking. If you have any or all of the aforementioned risk factors, talk to your medical provider for more information.
How Do You Screen for PVD?
Only about 60% of patients experienced symptoms related to their PVD. That means 40% of people with PVD don’t experience any symptoms. For this reason, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about screening options that are available to you. Vascular and Interventional Radiology physicians at Central Oregon Radiology Associates are specialty trained to evaluate and treat peripheral arterial disease. Interventional Radiology specialists at CORA can tailor the most appropriate screening exams for each patient.
How Do You Treat PVD?
There are several of treatment options available. Most treatments are performed from the inside of the artery thereby avoiding surgery. Treatments are tailored to meet the needs of the individual patient.
Minimally invasive treatments for PVD performed by Vascular and Interventional Radiologists at CORA include angioplasty (also known as percutaneous balloon angioplasty) uses a catheter to insert and then inflate a small balloon into the affected artery. This moves any fatty buildup aside and enlarges the artery so that it is no longer constricting blood flow. Once the procedure is completed, the balloon is removed.
In the case of more seriously blocked arteries, a stent may be the best option. Similar to an angioplasty procedure, a stent is inserted into an artery to open it up. The difference is that a stent remains in place, holding the artery open.
Atherectomy is also an option. This technique involves removing the plaque on the walls of an artery using a catheter.