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Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

What is Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), also known as peripheral artery disease (PAD) or peripheral arterial disease, is a condition characterized by the narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels outside of the heart and brain, particularly in the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet. PVD is commonly caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque (fatty deposits, cholesterol, and other substances) on the inner walls of the arteries, which restricts blood flow to the limbs.

Risk factors

  1. Smoking

  2. Diabetes

  3. High blood pressure (hypertension)

  4. High cholesterol levels (hyperlipidemia)

  5. Aging

  6. Obesity

  7. Sedentary lifestyle

  8. Family history of peripheral vascular disease

  9. History of heart disease or stroke


Symptoms of PVD include:

  • Claudication: Pain, cramping, or fatigue in the legs during physical activity, such as walking or climbing stairs, that improves with rest

  • Numbness or weakness in the legs

  • Coldness or discoloration of the legs or feet

  • Hair loss or slow growth of toenails

  • Poor wound healing or ulcers on the legs or feet

  • Erectile dysfunction in men

Treatment options

Treatment of peripheral vascular disease aims to relieve symptoms, improve blood flow, and reduce the risk of complications. This may include lifestyle modifications (such as smoking cessation, regular exercise, and healthy diet), medications (such as antiplatelet agents, statins, and blood pressure-lowering drugs), minimally invasive procedures (such as angioplasty and stenting), and, in severe cases, surgical interventions (such as bypass surgery) to restore blood flow to the affected limb.


Early detection and comprehensive management of peripheral vascular disease are crucial for reducing the risk of complications and improving outcomes for individuals living with this condition.

Can exercise help?

Exercise can be beneficial for managing peripheral vascular disease (PVD) by:


  1. Improving circulation: Regular aerobic exercise helps to improve blood flow to the legs and feet by promoting the dilation of blood vessels, increasing collateral circulation, and reducing the severity of arterial narrowing or blockages associated with PVD.

  2. Increase exercise tolerance: Exercise helps to improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance, allowing individuals with PVD to engage in physical activities for longer periods of time without experiencing significant discomfort or fatigue.

  3. Reduce symptoms: Exercise can help alleviate symptoms of PVD, such as claudication (pain, cramping, or fatigue in the legs during physical activity), by improving overall blood flow, increasing oxygen delivery to tissues, and enhancing muscle strength and endurance.

  4. Promote collateral circulation: Regular exercise stimulates the development of collateral blood vessels, which can provide alternative routes for blood flow to bypass blocked or narrowed arteries, improving circulation and reducing symptoms of PVD.

  5. Improve muscle function: Strength training exercises help to strengthen the muscles in the legs and feet, improving muscle function and endurance, reducing muscle fatigue, and enhancing functional abilities in individuals with PVD.

  6. Enhance quality of life: Regular exercise has been shown to improve overall quality of life, increase energy levels, and promote a sense of independence and empowerment, despite the challenges of living with PVD.

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