Peripheral Artery Disease vs Peripheral Vascular Disease: What’s the Difference?

Peripheral Artery Disease vs Peripheral Vascular Disease

Do you feel a cramping pain in your leg under mild exertion? Maybe you feel cooler than you should in your extremities? Any, or both, of these symptoms, can indicate peripheral artery disease (PAD) or peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

Are you confused about peripheral artery disease vs peripheral vascular disease? Don’t be. Read on to learn the differences.

Peripheral Artery Disease vs Peripheral Vascular Disease

What is peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common condition that occurs when there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the legs. This can lead to a narrowing of the arteries and reduced blood flow. PAD can cause symptoms such as pain when walking, eventually leading to severe problems such as tissue death (gangrene).

PAD is often diagnosed using an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery.

What is peripheral vascular disease?

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to problems with blood flow in the arteries and veins outside the heart and brain. The most common symptom of PVD is a pain in the legs or feet during activity, such as walking or climbing stairs. PVD can also lead to serious problems, such as ulcers and gangrene.

Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease and Peripheral Vascular Disease

PAD can cause symptoms such as pain or cramping in the muscles, known as claudication. When PAD is severe, it can lead to tissue death (gangrene) and amputation. PAD is most common in people over 60, and risk factors include smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  It is important to be aware of the symptoms of PAD, as early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of serious complications.

PVD can cause symptoms such as pain, cramping, numbness, and weakness in the extremities. PVD is a common condition, and its symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

The new treatments for PAD often include lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and exercising more. In some cases, medication or surgery may be necessary.

Diagnosing the Diseases

PAD is often diagnosed with a simple ankle-brachial index (ABI) test. This test compares the blood pressure in your ankles to the blood pressure in your arm. A low ABI score can indicate PAD. Other tests that may be used to diagnose PAD include angiography, MRI, and CT scans. 

A comprehensive medical history, physical examination, and tests like an ankle-brachial index (ABI) or duplex ultrasound can help to diagnose PVD. More serious cases may require interventions like angioplasty or bypass surgery.

Understand the Differences

Both peripheral artery disease vs peripheral vascular disease are disorders that affect the circulatory system. PAD specifically affects the arteries, while PVD can affect any blood vessel outside of the heart. Both conditions can lead to serious health complications, such as stroke or amputation.

Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to managing these conditions. If you think you may be at risk for either PAD or PVD, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and risk factors.

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