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Peripheral Vascular Disease, Ambulatory Care

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Peripheral vascular disease

is a condition that causes decreased blood flow to your limbs because of blocked blood vessels. The blockage is usually caused by atherosclerosis. This is when material, such as cholesterol, sticks to the inside of your blood vessels and makes them narrow.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Painful cramps in your hip, thigh, or calf muscles, especially after you walk or climb stairs
  • Burning pain in your hands, fingers, feet, or toes
  • Shiny, tight, cold skin, and uneven hair growth on your skin
  • A change in your skin color
  • Sores on your skin that do not heal
  • Weakness or numbness of your hands or feet

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Pain in your legs that does not go away with rest
  • Dark areas on the skin of your legs
  • Chest pain that feels like squeezing, pressure, fullness, or pain
  • Chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes or returns
  • Nausea and trouble breathing
  • Cold sweat and feeling lightheaded or dizzy

Treatment for peripheral vascular disease

may include any of the following:

  • Cholesterol medicine helps decrease the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
  • Antiplatelets help prevent blood clots. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
  • Vasodilators help blood vessels dilate (open wider) and increase your blood flow.
  • Angioplasty may be needed to open your blood vessel. A catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and threaded to the blockage. A small balloon is inflated to open the blocked blood vessel. Metal or plastic stents (tubes) may be put in where the artery was blocked to keep it open.
  • Bypass surgery may be done to place a new blood vessel near the blocked vessel. The blood then flows through the new blood vessel around the blockage. This new vessel may be made of plastic or other material.
  • Reconstructive surgery may be done to replace the area of blood vessel that is blocked or narrow. An artificial vessel, or a vessel taken from another part of your body, is used to replace it.

Manage peripheral vascular disease:

  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
  • Get regular exercise. Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Walking is a low-impact way to exercise and increase your blood flow. Stop and rest if you have pain in your legs.
  • Care for your feet. Look closely at your feet every day. Check for cracks or sores. Wash your feet daily with mild soap and dry them well. Do not walk barefoot in case you step on a hard or sharp object.
  • Change your sleep position. You may have pain in your legs or feet when you sleep. Raise the head of your bed 4 inches, or use pillows to prop your upper body higher than your legs. This may help more blood go to your feet, decreasing pain.
  • Protect and cushion your feet and hands. If you have ulcers on your feet, you may need to wear bandages with heel pads. You may also wear foam rubber booties. Hand or foot warmers may decrease pain in your hands or feet.

Prevent peripheral vascular disease:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Manage your diabetes. Keep your blood sugar level in the correct range . Check your blood sugar level often. Ask if you should make changes to your diet, exercise, or medications.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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