Peripheral Artery Disease vs. Peripheral Venous Disease

04 Jun, 2024

When it comes to vascular health, confusion often arises between Peripheral Artery Disease and Peripheral Venous Disease. Both conditions affect the blood vessels, but they have different causes, symptoms, and treatments. Unfortunately, this confusion can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment, resulting in severe health complications. At National Vascular Associates, we offer quality vascular care services for our clients. Continue reading to learn the distinctions between PAD and PVD so you can take proactive steps to manage your vascular health more effectively.


Recognizing the Signs of PAD & PVD

Understanding the symptoms of PAD and PVD is important for early detection and management. While both conditions impact the blood vessels, their manifestations differ substantially.

Peripheral Artery Disease: PAD primarily affects arteries, which are designed to carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Common symptoms include:

  • Intermittent Claudication: Cramping or pain in the legs, thighs, or buttocks during physical activity, which typically subsides with rest.
  • Rest Pain: Severe pain in the feet or toes, particularly at night.
  • Non-Healing Wounds: Sores or ulcers on the legs or feet that do not heal.
  • Coldness in the Lower Extremities: A noticeable temperature difference between one leg and the other.
  • Weak Pulses in the Legs: Diminished or absent pulses in the legs or feet.

Peripheral Venous Disease: PVD affects the veins, which return deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling: Swelling in the lower legs and ankles.
  • Varicose Veins: Enlarged, twisted veins visible under the skin.
  • Leg Pain or Heaviness: A feeling of heaviness and aching in the legs, most often after prolonged standing or sitting.
  • Skin Changes: Discoloration, thickening, or ulceration of the skin around the ankles.
  • Restless Legs: A sudden urge to move the legs to relieve discomfort.

Getting to the Bottom of It

An accurate diagnosis from a vascular doctor is the first step in managing PAD and PVD effectively. Both conditions require specific tests and evaluations to determine the severity of the disease.

Diagnosis of PAD:

  • Ankle-Brachial Index: This non-invasive test will compare the blood pressure in the ankle with your arm blood pressure to identify blockages.
  • Doppler Ultrasound: Doppler sound waves can help to visualize blood flow and detect any arterial blockages.
  • Angiography: This involves an injection of contrast dye into the arteries to visualize blood flow using X-ray imaging technology.
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography: Utilizes magnetic fields and radio waves to develop more detailed images of blood vessels.

Diagnosis of PVD:

  • Venous Doppler Ultrasound: This imaging test evaluates blood flow in the veins and can identify blockages or blood clots.
  • Venography: Involves injecting contrast dye into the veins to see blood flow and detect any abnormalities.
  • Blood Tests: Often used to check for clotting disorders that contribute to PVD.
  • CT or MRI Scans: These imaging tests provide detailed views of the veins and can help identify structural abnormalities.

Taking Action

Vascular treatment approaches used by a vascular specialist for PAD and PVD vary based on the severity and specific characteristics of each condition. The goal is to alleviate symptoms through vascular care and prevent complications.

Treatment of PAD:

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Quitting smoking, adopting a heart-healthy diet, and regular exercise can improve symptoms and slow disease progression.
  • Medications: Antiplatelet agents like aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs can help manage PAD.
  • Angioplasty and Stenting: This minimally invasive procedure is used to open up blocked arteries to insert a stent that keeps them open.
  • Bypass Surgery: In severe cases, a surgeon may create a bypass around the blocked artery using a graft.

Treatment of PVD:

  • Compression Stockings: Wearing these can reduce swelling and improve blood flow in the veins.
  • Medications: Blood thinners or clot-dissolving medications may be prescribed to prevent or treat blood clots.
  • Sclerotherapy: Injection of a solution into varicose veins to collapse them.
  • Endovenous Laser Treatment: Uses lasers to close off varicose veins.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, vein stripping or ligation might be necessary to remove or tie off any damaged veins.

Prevention and Management of PAD & PVD

Preventing PAD and PVD involves making healthy lifestyle choices and managing risk factors. Routine check-ups and early intervention can make a major difference.

Prevention Strategies for PAD:

  • Control Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: Keeping these within healthy ranges reduces the risk of arterial blockages.
  • Healthy Diet and Exercise: Diets that are full of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, as well as physical activity, promotes vascular health.
  • Smoking Cessation: Smoking is a giant risk factor for PAD; quitting can drastically reduce the risk.

Prevention Strategies for PVD:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can put additional pressure on veins, leading to PVD.
  • Regular Physical Activity: Improves blood flow and prevents blood clots.
  • Avoid Prolonged Standing or Sitting: Regular movement and leg elevation can help reduce symptoms and prevent complications.
  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated can improve blood flow and reduce the risk of clot formation.

Are You Looking for a Vascular Specialist?

Staying informed and proactive can help you effectively manage your vascular health and lead a healthier, more active life. At National Vascular Associates, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive care for all your vascular treatment needs. Our team of experienced specialists uses advanced diagnostic tools to encourage the best outcomes for our patients. Contact us if you’re ready to schedule an appointment with an experienced vascular doctor near you.

Explore Our Other Treatments

Spider Vein Treatment
GSV and SSV Venous Ablation
Shoulder Embolization
Angioplasty Stent Atherectomy

National Vascular Associates

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