Peripheral Vascular Disease is when the arteries narrow due to the build-up of plaque on the inner walls – it usually occurs in the blood vessels below the aorta that supply the legs.
This becomes more common as you age, but certain lifestyle factors can make PVD more likely; this includes smoking, lack of exercise, carrying too much weight, unhealthy diet and drinking too much alcohol. Other factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes and kidney disease.
This can be difficult as often the symptoms can be blamed on other things. Typically, you may get a pain in your calves or thighs when you walk which is relieved when you rest – the site of the pain is usually determined by where the narrowing of the artery is located. Often patients have seen other specialist such as back, hip or knee surgeons.
As the blood supply to the legs is further compromised you may see signs of tissue damage in the feet with ulceration and continuous pain sometimes worse in bed.
Based on your symptoms, Mr Darby will perform an examination and a blood pressure check at the ankle compared to your arm and if there is a difference it usually means there is the existence of PVD. A number of different scans can be carried out to identify exactly which artery is narrowing.
Often PVD will remain stable but it does mean that you are at risk of other arteries hardening and Mr Darby will look at what factors are causing the condition and how they should be managed. Ongoing monitoring will take place.
Mr Darby will determine your best treatment option and these include an angioplasty where a small balloon is inserted into the artery to expand it or bypass surgery where a graft is used to divert the blood around the narrowed section.