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Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) occurs when a buildup of plaque and other substances blocks or narrows arteries, limiting or halting blood flow. The condition is also called peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The same artery blockages that cause PVD make people with the disease four to five times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

PVD symptoms

Many people with PVD don't have symptoms, but there are signs to watch for:

  • Claudication — a burning or tired feeling in the leg while walking, climbing stairs or exercising that generally goes away with rest
  • Extreme leg pain (in severe cases)
  • Sores in the legs and feet

PVD risk factors

Risk factors for PVD include the following:

Preventing PVD

There are ways to help prevent PVD:

  • Do not smoke or quit smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Care for peripheral vascular disease at Rush

Since people with PVD may not experience symptoms, patients at high risk for the disease should get regular checkups. Early detection can help restore your mobility, decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke, and possibly save your life.

If you are diagnosed with PVD, specialists at Rush collaborate across disciplines to create a personalized treatment plan for you. That plan may include the following:

  • Lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise
  • Diabetes management
  • Medications to lower blood pressure or cholesterol levels (or both)
  • Minimally invasive options to restore blood flow, including the following:
    • Angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure to increase blood flow to the legs
    • Ocelot System, a guided catheter with a camera and drill at the tip that allows doctors to restore blood flow to leg arteries
  • Bypass surgery to restore blood flow

Why choose Rush for peripheral vascular disease care

  • Rush is the first Chicago hospital to use a lumivascular technique combining imaging and therapy on a single device to unblock clogged arteries. This outpatient procedure uses a dime-sized incision and can provide an alternative to bypass surgery.
  • The Ocelot System’s camera helps doctors avoid puncturing arteries with the drills they need to dislodge plaque to restore blood flow. This system, along with other existing technologies, allows interventional radiologists at Rush a success rate at opening arteries of more than 99 percent.
  • The interventional platform in Rush's hospital has state-of-the-art procedure rooms that allow for a collaborative treatment approach for a wide range of conditions, including peripheral vascular disease.
  • Specialists at Rush are leaders in research on peripheral vascular disease, so they are able to offer patients many new treatments before they are widely available.

Departments and programs that treat this condition