​Peripheral Vascular Disease


Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is a form of atherosclerosis. Plaque (made up of cholesterol, other fats, and calcium) can build up inside the walls of blood vessels over time, ultimately restricting normal blood flow. When this happens in the arteries located outside the heart — those that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs — this can cause significant pain and limitation to quality of life.

Lifestyle changes to lower your risk of PVD include:

  • Stop smoking (smokers are 2 to 25 times more likely to get PVD).
  • Control diabetes.
  • Control blood pressure.
  • Be physically active.
  • Eat a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet.

Symptoms of PVD

When organs and muscles in the body receive an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood, they literally become starved and alert you to this fact by producing pain. If the blockage occurs in the arteries supplying the legs, the resulting symptom is a cramping pain in the hips, thighs, or calf muscle and can limit even casual walking. If the pain is relieved with rest, we call this condition intermittent claudication. If blood circulation becomes so severely restricted that the legs and feet are perpetually starved for nutrition, ulcers, or gangrene — death of the tissue — can occur.

Treatment for PVD

Percutaneous (through the skin) transluminal interventions for the treatment of acute and chronic PVD include angioplasty, stenting, and atherectomy. When compared to surgical intervention, percutaneous procedures generally offer the potential for reduced risk, quicker recovery, and overall cost-effectiveness.

  • Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to dilate (widen) narrowed or blocked peripheral arteries. A thin tube called a catheter with a deflated balloon on its tip is passed into the narrowed artery segment. After the balloon is inflated to expand the artery, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is withdrawn.
  • Stenting is a non-surgical procedure where a tiny metal coil is expanded inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area and is left in place to keep the artery open.
  • Atherectomy is a non-surgical procedure that inserts a tiny device on the end of a catheter inside the artery and the plaque is "shaved" away.

For more information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of peripheral vascular disease or to make an appointment with a physician call 212-305-7060.

Visit ColumbiaDoctors Peripheral Vascular Medicine for additional information about Columbia's approach to treating this disease.