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Symptoms and Signs of Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Doctor's Notes on Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

The term peripheral vascular disease usually refers to peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is the narrowing or occlusion of arteries outside of the heart and brain by by atherosclerotic plaques. This means that blood circulation from the heart to the body is decreased. Atherosclerosis is caused by a number of conditions. Risk factors for peripheral artery disease include elevated blood cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, overweight, and a sedentary lifestyle. 

Symptoms and signs of peripheral vascular disease depend on the extent and location of the blockage in the artery. The classic symptom of peripheral artery disease is intermittent claudication, which is pain in the calf or lower leg that comes on while walking and goes away at rest. Associated symptoms can include pain that worsens continuously with activity until it becomes unbearable and pain at rest if the arterial blockage is severe.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.