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Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a common condition in the United States. It is a leading cause of disability among people older than 50. PVD occurs when there is a build-up of plaque in the peripheral arteries that carry blood to your organs and limbs. Of the peripheral arteries, those in the legs are often the most affected. Over time, plaque can harden and narrow these arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your legs and can cause pain and numbness. It also can raise your risk of getting an infection. PVD can be a dangerous and debilitating disease if not properly diagnosed and treated.


Approximately half of people with peripheral vascular disease do not experience any symptoms. For patients with symptoms, the most common symptoms are leg pain or cramping. Other symptoms and signs of PVD include:

  • Numbness of the extremities
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Diminished size and strength of the calf muscle
  • A feeling of coldness in the legs or feet
  • Non-healing wounds, skin ulcers
  • Changes in color of the feet
  • Thickening of the toenails
  • Leg swelling

Risk Factors

It is important to be aware of the risk factors that could increase the likelihood of developing PVD, such as:

  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of premature heart attacks or strokes

Many of the risk factors associated with PVD are preventable with lifestyle choices. Knowing your risks will enable you to take control of your health and provide you with the best defense against vascular disease.

Online Vascular Assessment

In addition to free information sessions to learn about Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), Sparrow also offers a free online vascular risk assessment tool. This assessment, which takes only about seven minutes, will help you to assess your vascular health. If you are determined to be at-risk for PVD, you will be eligible for a free screening at Sparrow. Click here to take the VascularAware Risk Assessment.