Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), also known as peripheral arterial disease, is a common blood vessel disease that is linked to stroke and heart attack. PVD affects at least five million American adults
The disease results from fatty material (plaque) building up on the walls of the arteries in the legs. This causes the arteries to become narrower and to harden (known as arteriosclerosis). Over time, the arteries lose their ability to deliver enough blood and oxygen to the leg muscles, even when they are at rest.
The reduced circulation can cause blood clots to form, blocking circulation to smaller arteries. The clots create vascular events which further increase the risk of stroke or myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack.
You can learn whether you are at risk of PVD by taking this self assessment. Just answer yes or no to each question.
• Do you have such heart problems as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack or stroke?
• Do you have diabetes?
• Do you have a family history of diabetes or cardiovascular problems?
• Do you have aching, cramping or pain in your legs when you walk or exercise, but then it goes away when you rest?
• Have you ever had a blood clot or “DVT?”
• Do you have pain or discoloration in your hands, toes or feet at night? This can include tingling, numbness or coldness.
• Do you have any ulcers or sores on your feet or legs that are slow in healing?
• Do you smoke or have you ever smoked?
• Are you more than 25 pounds overweight?
• Do you have an inactive lifestyle combined with a diet of fried, processed or fatty foods at least three times a week?
• Do you experience impotence?
• Are you over the age of 50?
• Do you have loss of hair on your feet or toes?
• Do you have irregular growth of fingernails or toenails?
• Do you have acute swelling in your legs?
• Do you have a history of vascular disease such as blood vessel calcification or plaque?
If you answered yes to questions 1, 2, 7, 15 or 16, you are at serious risk for peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and should seek help. An answer of yes to any two of the remaining questions means that you potentially are at risk.
In either case, you can contact the Northern Nevada Medical Center Critical Limb Care Center at 352-5313 to schedule a free screening. The earlier you address your symptoms, the better your outcome will be.
I will be providing a free lecture on peripheral vascular disease risk factors and warning signs at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Sparks Medical Building, Suite 203, on the Northern Nevada Medical Center campus, 2385 E. Prater Way. Call 356-6662 to RSVP.
Todd Inman, MD, is a family medicine physician at the Northern Nevada Medical Group and medical director for the Wound Care Center at Northern Nevada Medical Center. Dr. Inman earned his medical degree and completed his residency from the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 352-5300.