Symptoms and Signs of Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/1/2021

Doctor's Notes on Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

The term peripheral vascular disease (PVD) 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 cholesterolsmokinghigh blood pressurediabetes, being 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.

What Is the Treatment for Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Peripheral arterial disease can be treated by a number of measures:

  • Lifestyle alterations, such as smoking cessation and eating a healthy diet
  • Medications to prevent blood clotting, to lower blood cholesterol, control blood pressure, or improve blood flow to the extremities
  • Angioplasty and related treatments to open blocked arteries
  • Surgery such as bypass surgery or endarterectomy to remove plaque in a specific area

A combination of these treatment methods may be used.

Must Read Articles:


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