Encyclopedia

Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease /PSB/ is a very common clinical condition in Europe and most often affects people over the age of 50.

The disease is a leading cause of disability among people in this age group, as well as among those with diabetes.

The number of those affected is expected to increase with the aging of the population. For men, there is a lower risk of developing the disease.

PSB is more common in smokers, and the combination of diabetes and smoking almost always leads to more severe disease.
About half of those affected have no symptoms.

And half of those who do develop them, do not consult their GPs.

Many people think that disease is just a normal part of aging and that nothing can be done or that the only alternative is surgery. Today, however, surgery is only one of several effective treatments for peripheral vascular disease.

What are the symptoms?

The most characteristic clinical manifestation of peripheral vascular disease of the legs is pain in one or both calves, thighs or lower back.

The painful sensation occurs while the affected person is walking or climbing stairs and disappears when he is at rest.

This is because the muscles’ need for blood increases during walking or other physical exertion.

Narrowed and blocked arteries cannot supply more blood, so the muscles are deprived of oxygen and other nutrients.

This pain is usually called intermittent claudication. The painful sensation is mild and spasmodic. It can feel like heaviness, tightness or fatigue in the leg muscles.

Possible causes of muscle cramps in the legs are several, but when they occur simultaneously with physical exertion and disappear at rest, they are most likely due to intermittent claudication.

When blood vessels in the legs are completely blocked, hip pain at night is very typical, and sufferers almost always hang their legs down to relieve the painful sensations.

Hanging down legs allow blood to reach the distal part of the legs passively.

Other symptoms of PSB

• Pain in the flank;
• Stiffness, numbness or weakness in the thighs;
• Burning or painful sensations in the legs or toes at rest;
• Ulceration of thigh or foot that does not heal;
• A feeling of coldness in one or both legs or a change in the color of the skin in that area. Most often they become pale, bluish or dark red.
• Loss of hair on the legs;
• Impotence;

Treatment of Peripheral Vascular Disease

Physicians recommend ways in which a person can reduce exposure to the risk factors that favor the development of atherosclerosis and peripheral blood vessel disease.

Not all predisposing factors can be changed, but most of them can be limited. This can contribute not only to prevent deterioration of the condition of the peripheral vessels, but it is possible for the disease to undergo a reverse development.

Give up smoking – stopping smoking reduces the severity of the symptoms of the disease. In addition, the spread of the disease to the coronary arteries is prevented.

Be active – regular even light physical activity such as walking can relieve symptoms and increase the length of time a person can walk without pain.

Eat nutritious, low-fat foods and avoid foods high in cholesterol.

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