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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 and risk factors

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

If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, you may benefit from an evaluation by a PVD specialist:

  • Do you smoke or have you ever smoked?
  • Have you been diagnosed with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol?
  • Do you have a family history of PVD?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with PVD, cardiac disease or stroke?
  • Do you ever experience tiredness, heaviness or cramping in the leg muscles, especially during activity?
  • Do your toes and feet look pale, discolored or bluish?
  • If you ahve leg pain, does it disturb your sleep?
  • Have you experienced sores or wounds on the toes, feet or legs that heal slowly or not at all?
  • Does one leg or foot regularly feel colder than the other?
  • Have you noticed poor nail growth and decreased hair growth over time on the toes or legs?

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. You can receive PVD care at multiple locations, including Rush University Medical Center and the Peripheral Artery Diseae Clinic at Rush Oak Park Hospital. 

Your treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

  • Education on diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors that impact PVD
  • 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
  • Referral to a rehabilitation program for supervised exercise
  • Smoking cessation program

Why choose Rush for peripheral vascular disease care

  • The Peripheral Artery Disease Clinic at Rush Oak Park Hospital offers comprehensive care to manage symptoms, keep the disease from worsening and reduce future risk. This includes diagnostic testing, a full range of treatments, education, supervised exercise and smoking cessation. 
  • Rush was 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