March 11, 2022
Maintaining a strong vascular system is an important part of living a long healthy life. If you're diagnosed with a disease that affects your vessels (veins & arteries) organs including your heart and lungs can be affect. Even your legs and feet can feel the effects of an unhealthy circulatory system. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent more serious complications from developing. Here's what you should know about PAD and PVD before scheduling your first visit with the trusted team at the Vascular Institute of the Rockies.
Both peripheral artery disease (PAD) and peripheral venous disease (PVD) are conditions that affect the circulatory system, however, there are key factors that differentiate the two. PAD occurs when the arteries that carry blood away from your heart to your brain and extremities have either narrowed or been blocked as a result of plaque buildup. Alternatively, PVD occurs when cholesterol or tissue builds up along the internal lining of the vessel and causes your arteries to harden as a result of a condition called atherosclerosis. Both conditions are very serious and can increase your chances of experiencing heart disease, a stroke or limit mobility.
While many people with PAD do not exhibit any signs until the problem worsens, some there are common symptoms that many people will experience in both PAD and PVD. These include:
Claudication (Pain or tightness in the lower leg due to inadequate blood flow)
Numbness, weakness, or tingling in feet or lower legs
Pain or burning in feet or lower legs when resting
Color change (purple/blueish) or coldness in feet or lower legs
Pain that wakes you while you're sleeping
Shiny, smooth skin on lower legs
Wounds that won't heal
PAD and PVD can exhibit many of the same indicators of other circulatory conditions. If your doctor suspects that you have either condition, they will likely perform a CT Angiogram or an ankle blood pressure measurement, or Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI), to determine the cause of your symptoms. An ABI is a painless test that uses an ultrasound to measure your blood pressure reading in your ankle and arm. It can measure any fatty plaque buildup in your leg arteries as well as the plaque buildup in the other blood vessels in your cardiovascular system. Diagnosing PAD and PVD as early as possible is critical to preventing further plaque buildup that can lead to serious complications, including heart disease and stroke.
Managing your symptoms and preventing the progression of PAD and PVD is possible. Depending on your diagnosis, condition, and medical history there are a variety of PAD and PVD treatment options, including:
Angioplasty and stenting: This is a nonsurgical option in which a balloon is placed in a narrowed or blocked artery to stretch it and allow blood to flow more easily through it. A small metal stent may also be inserted into the artery to keep it open after the balloon is removed.
Endarterectomy: This is a minor surgical procedure that is used to remove plaque buildup from inside of a narrowed or blocked artery when a balloon or stent may not be an option.
Bypass surgery: This is an open surgery that uses another vein or synthetic tube to make a path around a blocked or narrowed section of an artery. While this requires a longer recovery time than other treatment options, it may be the best long-term solution depending on your particular needs.
Amputation: In rare cases, amputating your foot or lower leg may be recommended, especially if gangrene is present. This treatment option is always a last resort.