Peripheral Vascular Disease in NYC

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a very common condition in the United Sates. The number of people with PVD is expected to grow as the population ages. PVD is a slow and progressive circulation disorder that affects the blood vessels outside of the heart. PVD affects the veins and arteries involving the arms, legs, and other vital organs such as the kidneys. The veins and arteries affected are the blood vessels that are distant from the heart and are also known as peripheral vessels.

In PVD, blood vessels become narrowed and reduce the blood flow and oxygen supplied to the limbs and organs. Narrowing is usually caused by atherosclerosis of the arteries, which is due to plaque build up inside a vessel.  It is the same process that affects the heart arteries in coronary artery disease, and they are often both present in the same patient.  As plaque growth progresses, clots may develop. This further restricts the affected vessel, which can lead to arteries becoming obstructed. PVD that develops only in the arteries is also known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and is the most common form of PVD. PVD that develops in the deep veins in the body is called deep vein thrombosis, and people at risk for this are those with genetic clotting disorders, obese people, pregnant women, people undergoing surgery or on prolonged bed rest, or this who sit for prolonged periods of time. “Claudication” is the term used for pain caused by too little blood flow, usually during exercise, and feels like a cramping sensation, often in the calf or buttock area.   Often people will not report symptoms, which is troublesome, as they simply decrease their activity to deal with these new symptoms as time passes, even becoming totally sedentary.

Risk Factors of PAD in New York

You are at a higher risk for PAD if you are a man over the age of 50 or a postmenopausal woman. Your chance of developing PAD also increases if you have heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, previous stroke, and family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure. Additionally, certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing PAD. Being overweight, not engaging in physical activity regularly, and smoking can all lead to this condition.

Symptoms of PVD Near New York City

For a lot of people, there are no symptoms of PVD. If there are signs of PVD, usually they will occur slowly and irregularly. You many feel discomfort in your legs and feet such as painful cramping, achiness, fatigue, and burning. These sensations will usually occur when you are walking fast, with more exertion, or for long distances. This is due to intermittent claudication, which is when people experience more pain during physical activity than while resting. It occurs because the muscles need more blood flow during physical activity and are only being supplied with a limited amount. As your PVD progresses, symptoms will occur more frequently and can lead to leg pain and fatigue at rest too, as well as threatened loss of limb due to inadequate blood flow.

Diagnosis and Treatment in Tri-State Area

Diagnosis of PVD involves a very detailed history and physical examination, and often a variety of radiological and physiological tests.  Diagnosing PAD is not only important because of the disease itself, but very importantly, because it is associated with a much higher risk of having a heart attack for multiple reasons.  In fact, people with PAD have the same yearly risk of having a heart attack as those who have already had a heart attack!  Therefore, treatment of PAD involves two main goals. The first is to control pain and symptoms, and the second is to stop the condition from progressing and identify and treat coexisting coronary conditions.  Fortunately, the treatments often overlap. You will need to make lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, eating a heart-healthy diet, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. You need to make sure you are also managing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol if you have them. If lifestyle changes don’t control your PVD, your doctor may prescribe medications to better manage it. However, significant artery blockages may require surgery, such as an angioplasty or vascular surgery.

Preventive Cardiology of New York can help you identify and treat your condition and assess your overall cardiovascular risk with our Consultative Cardiology Services. Call (646) 661-2427 for information today!