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Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease is the narrowing, clogging, and hardening of the arteries in the extremities—typically the legs—resulting in reduced blood flow to the extremities.

This disease can in turn cause pain, numbness, and even tissue death in the legs. Although it’s most common in the legs, it can also occur in the vessels that supply blood to the arms and kidneys.

The most common symptom of peripheral vascular disease is a leg pain referred to as, “claudication.” If the pain strikes when walking or exercising and subsides after a few minutes of rest, it’s called intermittent claudication. This is a result of the muscles in the legs are not receiving adequate oxygen due to the blockage of the arteries in the legs. Numbness or tingling in the legs and feet is sometimes seen as well.

Other common symptoms include:

• Gangrene—tissue death
• Dry, fragile, or shiny skin
• Coldness in the lower legs and feet
• Loss of hair on the lower extremities
• Weak or absent pulse in the extremities
• Ulcers or sores on the legs and feet that don’t heal
• Paleness and/or blue or red discoloration of the feet and/or toes

The most common cause of this disease is atherosclerosis—the buildup of fatty substances such as cholesterol and plaque, in the artery walls—which creates a blockage that restricts blood flow.

There are several treatment options for peripheral vascular disease. If you suspect you’re suffering from the disease, see your doctor immediately for the best treatment options for you.

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