Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Peripheral Vascular Disease

Many patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD) have pain in their legs when walking. In some cases, some people experience no symptoms. PVD involves artery blockage and can put individuals at risk for amputations. Typically, patients who suffer this condition are also at risk for heart disease and stroke.

Risk factors are habits, traits or conditions that may increase your chances of developing peripheral vascular disease. These include your age, family history and gender (male or post-menopausal female).

Certain risk factors can be controlled or modified, reducing your chances of developing PVD include:

  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Cigarette smoking—the single most important risk factor
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure

If you notice long-term changes in your skin temperature or color on your extremities, non-healing wounds, numbness or burning in your legs or toes, restricted mobility or severe pain, make an appointment with your physician for a thorough examination.


Tests

Diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease may involve:

  • Angiogram: An X-ray of the arteries and veins using contrast dye detects blockage or narrowing of the vessels.
  • Blood lipid profile: A blood test measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Doppler ultrasound imaging studies: High-frequency sound waves and a computer create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs.
  • Photoplethysmography (PPG): An exam using a very tiny blood pressure cuff around the toe and an infrared light to evaluate blood flow near the surface of the skin.
  • Pulse volume recording (PVR): Waveform analysis—a technique to calculate blood volume changes in the legs.
  • Treadmill walking test: an exam in which the patient walks slowly on a treadmill to try to mimic the effect of activity on the leg arteries.
  • Segmental blood pressure measurements: A comparison of blood pressure using a Doppler device in the upper thigh, above and below the knee, at the ankle and on the arm to determine any constriction in blood flow.

Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
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Referring Physicians
Open communication and cooperation with referring physicians is a critical component of achieving high-quality care and minimizing the challenges that come with treating cardiovascular conditions. For physician-to-physician consultation regarding the best patient care, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).


Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, please call 847.53.HEART (534.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, please call 630.232.0280

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials: