Your questions answered
PVD is often characterized by the narrowing of the vessels that carry blood to the legs and arms. The most common cause is atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque inside the artery wall. Plaque reduces blood flow, decreases the oxygen and nutrients available, and can lead to clots forming on the artery walls, further reducing the width of blood vessels and potentially blocking major arteries. People with coronary artery disease often have peripheral vascular disease as well.
- Lifestyle changes to control risk factors include regular exercise, proper nutrition, and smoking cessation.
- Aggressive treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which can worsen PVD.
- Medications to improve blood flow and relax blood vessel walls.
- Vascular surgery – bypass graft using a blood vessel from another part of the body or a tube made of synthetic material is placed in the blocked/narrowed artery to reroute blood flow.
- Balloon angioplasty (a small balloon is inflated inside the blocked artery).
- Atherectomy (the blocked area inside the artery is “shaved” away).
- Laser angioplasty (a laser is used to “vaporize” the blockage).
- Stent (a tiny coil is expanded inside the blocked artery to keep it open) to open up the blockage.