What is Vascular Disease?
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), also known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), is a common cause of leg pain that affects mostly people older than 50. Smokers and people with diabetes, obesity or a family history of coronary artery disease are especially susceptible to PVD.
PVD occurs when there is a narrowing of the blood vessels outside of the heart. Plaque, a substance made up of fat and cholesterol, builds up on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs, a process called atherosclerosis. As the arteries narrow or become blocked, this can reduce or stop blood flow, usually to the legs, causing them to hurt or feel numb.
If severe enough, this blocked blood flow can cause gangrene. If this condition is left untreated, the foot or leg may need to be amputated. PVD also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Warning Signs of PVD
Common warning signs of peripheral vascular disease include:
Aching, tiredness or cramping in the legs during walking or exercising, which disappears after a few minutes of rest
Numbness and tingling in the lower legs and feet
Coldness in the lower legs and feet
Sores on the legs or feet that don’t heal
Skin color changes on the legs or feet