Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease is a condition of the blood vessels that leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply parts of your body other than the heart or brain. This decreases blood flow, which can injure nerves and other tissues. It is caused by atherosclerosis, a condition wherein fatty substance builds up in the blood vessels.

The classic symptoms are pain, achiness, fatigue, burning, or discomfort in the muscles of your feet, calves, or thighs. These symptoms start during exercise and go away after several minutes of rest. Other symptoms are a marked decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot and foot or toe wounds that won’t heal or heal very slowly.

Risk factors include smoking—smokers may have four times the risk of it than nonsmokers—obesity, diabetes mellitus, physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Many genetic variations play a role, each with a small or modest individual effect on disease development. Treatment includes lifestyle changes and medications.

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