Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is a generalized term referring to a spectrum of vascular disorders that alter the structure or function on any non-coronary artery. Atherosclerosis is the most common vascular disorder affecting the peripheral arteries (Ali & Carman, 2012). Atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries, is a general vascular disorder that can be located in any blood vessels throughout the body. It causes a reduction of blood flow and loss of function. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a blood vessel disease resulting from atherosclerosis. PAD focuses on how that reduced blood flow affects the lower extremities. PAD affects approximately 8.5 million adults 40 and older in the United States (Kohlman-Trigoboff, 2013).
PAD may be underdiagnosed due to the fact that is can be asymptomatic. It is estimated that as many as half of people with PAD have no symptoms. An artery may have a 60% or greater narrowing before symptoms are felt. This may be due to collateral circulation, where the body develops arties to bypass the hardened arteries (Vascular Disease Foundation, 2012). PAD can be a clinical indicator of more serious vascular disease and can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. (Olin & Sealove, 2010). Early diagnosis and treatment can be effective in management of this and other vascular diseases.
Peripheral Arterial Disease is most commonly a result of atherosclerosis, the narrowing and hardening of the arteries. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque can build up and harden and narrow the arteries. This limits blood flow throughout the body. PAD occurs if plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your legs, arms, and pelvis. If blood flow to these parts of the body is reduced or blocked, there may have numbness, pain, infection and possibly gangrene (tissue death) requiring amputation (National Institutes of Health, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 2011).
The main risk factors for PAD are smoking, age related, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history, coronary heart disease and stroke. Smoking is the number one preventable cause of PAD and other vascular diseases. Smokers are 4 times more likely to get PAD and the onset can occur ten years earlier than that of nonsmokers. 1 in 20 adults over 50 have PAD and 1-3 adults over 50 who also have diabetes have PAD (NIH, 2011).
A thorough patient history and physical exam may be helpful to diagnose the disease. Many people with PAD do not have any signs or symptoms. Others have many signs and symptoms and may include:
• Intermittent claudication i.e. pain, numbness, aching, or heaviness in the leg muscles, cramping in the affected leg(s) and in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet while walking or climbing stairs. Symptoms may ease after resting
• Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet
• Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or...