While the terms Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) and Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to different things.
What is Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)?
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) refers any disease that affects the vascular (circulatory) system in the lower extremities, including:
ARTERIES (carrying blood away from the heart)
VEINS (pushing blood back to the heart)
LYMPHATIC VESSELS (carrying lymphatic fluid away from the tissues)
PVD may be organic or functional. Organic PVD is characterized by damage to blood vessel walls due to plaque buildup or atherosclerosis, while functional PVD is triggered by temperature changes or brain signals—and no blood vessel wall damage is present.
What is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)?
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is just one of the vascular conditions that fall under the PVD umbrella of diseases. PAD affects the arteries only: narrowing them and thereby reducing blood flow to the legs and feet.
What Are the Symptoms of PAD?
While PAD can be asymptomatic in some people, most PAD sufferers experience various complications and symptoms in the legs and feet such as:
- Intermittent claudication. Muscle pain, weakness, cramping or heaviness that occurs during physical activity, which subsides quickly after resting
- Numbness in the legs which may affect stride and/or balance
- Pain or a pins-and-needles sensation in the feet or legs
- Slow, or non-healing wounds on the feet, legs or toes
- Discoloration in the feet or legs
- Temperature differences one foot may feel colder than the other foot
- Critical limb ischemia: pain in the feet or legs while at rest. This is a sign of severe PAD
- Lack of growth of toenails or leg hair
What Are Other Forms of PVD?
Aside from PAD, other diseases classified as PVD include:
- Varicose Veins
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Chronic venous insufficiency
PAD and these other forms of PVD are potentially dangerous and should not be ignored. Make an appointment with your podiatrist to be diagnosed and treated properly if you exhibit any symptoms listed here. Left untreated, these diseases may lead to infection, injury, ulcers, strokes, heart attack, or even a loss of limbs.