The collective state of cardiovascular health in the United States isn’t all that great if you consider that nearly half of Americans are affected. While cardiovascular issues range from high blood pressure to heart failure, we’re going to focus on the vascular side of the equation — more specifically, peripheral vascular disease.
The numbers surrounding peripheral vascular disease (PVD) are considerable — the condition affects about 40 to 45 million Americans. Here, Upper East Side Cardiology’s Dr. Satjit Bhusri reviews five of the more common signs of PVD to help you recognize when there might be a problem.
PVD at a glance
Peripheral vascular disease describes a condition in which blood vessels outside of your heart, such as arteries or veins, are blocked, usually due to atherosclerosis. These blockages hamper the blood flow in your body and the condition is usually progressive and chronic.
Common signs of peripheral vascular disease
Interestingly, about half of people with PVD don’t experience any symptoms. For the other half that do, the symptoms of PVD often develop in areas that are farthest from your heart , which means your lower limbs.
These symptoms include:
One of the most common signs of PVD is pain, such as cramping, in your legs, which we call claudication. At first, this discomfort might be intermittent — your legs cramp up when you exercise. As your PVD progresses,you can experience near constant claudication, which can make even walking around your house uncomfortable.
2. Numbness or weakness
The muscles in your lower limbs can feel numb, weak, or heavy due to insufficient circulation.
3. Cramping at rest
People with PVD can also experience cramping in their legs when they lie down, which can make sleeping difficult.
4. Changes in your skin
Another fairly common sign of PVD are changes in your skin. You may see reduced hair growth in your legs, for example, or your legs can turn reddish blue or very pale. Your skin may also become very thin, brittle, or even shiny and it can feel cold to the touch.
5. Wounds that won’t heal
One of the more serious byproducts of PVD are wounds on your lower limbs or feet that don’t heal well. This can lead to hard-to-treat infections and even gangrene, which is a condition that leads to dead tissue due to lack of blood flow.
Getting help for your PVD
If you recognize any of the signs of PVD, it’s important to come see us. Using advanced imaging and testing, we can look for problems in your blood vessels that are compromising the circulation in your extremities.
If we find that you have PVD, we can design a treatment plan that will help clear the blockages in your vascular system so that your blood can flow more freely.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of peripheral vascular disease, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to schedule an appointment. You can also call (212) 752-3464.