Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease affects the circulatory system outside the brain and heart specifically the blood vessels. Peripheral vascular disease can be caused by the gradual accumulation of fatty material inside the vessel which is a condition known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Eventually, the artery becomes narrowed, blocked or weakened.

Causes of peripheral vascular disease

  • The high levels of blood sugar present in diabetes can damage the blood vessels which makes them narrow and weak. People suffering from diabetes can have high blood pressure and high levels of fat in the blood. This condition can increase the development of atherosclerosis.
  • A blood clot can cause blockage of a blood vessel
  • The scarring and inflammation due to infection
  • Structural defects of the blood vessels acquired at birth can cause narrowing.
  • Blood vessels can be damaged through vehicular accidents such as a severe fall.


  • Pain that comes and goes in one or both the calves, thighs and hips especially when walking or climbing stairs and stops when resting.
  • There is heaviness, tightness or tiredness in the muscles of the legs.
  • Numbness, tingling sensation or weakness in the legs
  • Buttock pain
  • Loss of hair on the legs
  • Impotence
  • One or both of the legs or feet feels cold or there are changes in color such as pale, bluish and dark reddish.
  • A sore on the leg or foot that does not heal

Severe symptoms such as chest pain, pain in the upper back, jaw, neck or shoulder; confusion, visual issues, sudden dizziness, difficulty in walking or loss of balance or coordination, severe headache and fainting or loss of consciousness requires immediate medical attention.


  • Stop smoking to lessen the symptoms and reduce the chance of developing peripheral artery disease.
  • Perform regular exercises such as walking. Perform at least 20-30 minutes of brisk walking every day.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet with low fat foods and avoid eating foods that are high in cholesterol content.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control the blood pressure.
  • Control the level of blood sugar.

More Information

The details posted on this page on peripheral vascular disease is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage peripheral vascular disease, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.


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