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Are You at Risk for Peripheral Vascular Disease?

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) means plaque has built up in your arteries, narrowing them and reducing blood flow. "PVD mainly affects the legs, where it can cause pain when walking," explains Michael Bezuevsky, D.O., a vascular surgeon on staff at Lutheran Medical Center. "It raises your risk for narrowed heart arteries, heart attack and stroke."

The Risk Factors for PVD
High blood sugar due to insulin resistance or diabetes is a major risk factor for PVD. Smoking and older age raise your risk, too, and so does having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or a personal or family history of stroke or other cardiovascular conditions.

"Talk with your doctor to determine if you need blood pressure or blood flow tests to check for PVD," advises Dr. Bezuevsky. "Let your doctor know if you have any PVD symptoms, such as leg pain or numbness when you walk, sores on your legs or feet that don't heal well, or legs that are paler or cooler than normal."

Preventing PVD
Dr. Bezuevsky recommends lifestyle changes such as the following to help keep PVD at bay:
• Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days.
• Focus your diet on plant-based foods, like vegetables, beans and whole grains, and choose skinless poultry and low-or nonfat dairy products. Eat less fat and more fiber.
• If you take medications to control high blood sugar or for other PVD risk factors, be sure to take them as prescribed.

"If lifestyle changes aren't enough, your doctor may give you medication to help reduce the symptoms or complications of PVD," adds Dr. Bezuevsky. "Procedures such as angioplasty — which opens an artery with a balloon or a tube called a stent — are also used to treat PVD."

To make an appointment with Dr. Bezuevsky, call the Medical Arts Pavilion at 718-630-8600.

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