As we get older, it’s natural to see a few signs of aging. We look in the mirror and notice a few gray hairs, or new wrinkles. We notice that we’re not moving as quickly as we used to, and we don’t have the same energy we once had.
That’s natural. But Dr. Ray Workman, director of the best vascular clinic in Winston-Salem, would like to remind you there are some “signs of aging” that might be signs of something else. For example, you might notice that your legs are sore when you lie flat in bed but feel better when you hang them over the edge of the bed. Or you might experience burning sensations, achiness, or cold feelings in your feet, especially at night. Or you might feel cramping pain in your hips, thighs, or calves that becomes worse when you exercise.
All of these symptoms can be indications of peripheral vascular disease, or PVD.
What is peripheral vascular disease?
PVD is an “umbrella term” for a number of diseases that affect the arteries, veins, and lymphatic vessels in your extremities. PVD primarily affects the legs.
One common form of PVD is peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This refers to a condition caused by the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries. This occurs gradually over time, and is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Whatever you call it, the effect of PAD is to reduce the amount of blood flowing to your legs, feet, and toes, depriving them of the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. PAD is a serious condition that greatly increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and lower limb amputation due to critical limb ischemia.
Another common form of PVD is chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This condition is caused by smoking, heredity, pregnancy, weight gain, hormone changes, and inactivity. If you have CVI, the one-way valves in your veins that keep blood flowing in the proper direction start to fail, allowing blood to flow back into the veins and pool there. This causes them to swell and become inflamed, and often results in varicose veins. The bulging, discolored veins are unattractive, but they’re also unhealthy, because they can cause leg pain, swollen achy legs, and leg ulcers that refuse to heal.
A third type of PVD is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in which blood clots form in the deep veins of your legs. This condition is particularly dangerous, because if it is not treated, the blood clots can travel to your lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism (PE). DVT/PE kills an estimated 80,000–100,000 Americans each year.
What can you do about PVD?
Whichever form of PVD you have – arterial or venous – the first thing you need to do is find out how far the disease has progressed. This can be accomplished by scheduling a fast, painless vascular health screening at either the Winston-Salem or Kernersville offices of Novant Health Vein Specialists. If the screening reveals that you don’t have PVD but are at risk for it, we can suggest ways to prevent it so you stay healthy.
If you do have PVD, NHVS is home to the best vascular specialists in North Carolina. Dr. Ray Workman and his team use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and treatment methodologies to treat your PVD and eliminate its negative symptoms. We specialize in minimally-invasive procedures that are so gentle and safe that they can be performed in the comfort of our offices, without the need for a hospital stay. These advanced procedures also require less recovery time and provide better health outcomes than other treatments.
So, if you have experienced any of the symptoms we’ve discussed, or just want to make sure your vascular health is as good as it could be, give our experts a call at 336-245-4890 or schedule an appointment online. Our talented team of vascular specialists will be happy to help you and answer any questions you might have.