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Like its infamous relative, cardiovascular disease (CVD), peripheral vascular disease (PVD) results from atherosclerosis, but with PVD, the affected arteries are in the neck and legs.
“Your arteries are all connected, so the same way atherosclerosis affects the arteries in your heart, it also affects the arteries in your legs and neck,” says Biren Parikh, MD, cardiologist on the medical staff at Baylor Medical Center at Garland.
The classic warning sign of CVD is angina (chest pain), and the classic warning sign of PVD is claudication, pain in the calf or thigh when walking that is relieved with rest.
The risk factors are essentially the same:
A vascular specialist treating PVD will begin with symptoms and family history. “Using noninvasive Doppler ultrasound, I can obtain high-quality images of blood flow in arteries and determine the location and extent of blockages,” says James Hayhurst, MD, vascular surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Garland.
Most people with minor claudication from PVD don’t require surgery. “If they stop smoking, start a walking program and take medication, their symptoms should improve significantly,” says Dr. Hayhurst. Interventional vascular procedures involving open surgery, balloons and stents are reserved for patients who do not respond to conservative treatment or those who have severe acute or chronic symptoms.
Because about 80 percent of people with PVD have no symptoms, screening is important. “Having PVD doubles or triples your risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Parikh.
No matter what your risk factors are, Baylor can help you take care of your heart. For a referral to a cardiologist on the Baylor Garland medical staff, call 1.800.4BAYLOR or search our online directory.
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