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Heart Disease Health Center

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Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral Vascular Disease Symptoms continued...

The most common symptom of PVD in the legs is pain that comes and goes in one or both calves, thighs, or hips. The pain usually occurs while you are walking or climbing stairs and stops when you rest. It is usually a dull, cramping pain. It may also feel like a heaviness, tightness, or tiredness in the muscles of the legs. 

When blood vessels in the legs are completely blocked, leg pain at night is typical.

Other symptoms of PVD include:

  • Buttock pain
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs
  • Burning or aching pain in the feet or toes while resting
  • A sore on a leg or a foot that will not heal
  • One or both legs or feet feeling cold or changing color (pale, bluish, dark reddish)
  • Loss of hair on the legs
  • Impotence

Having symptoms while at rest is a sign of more severe disease.

When to Seek Medical Care

When you have symptoms of peripheral vascular disease in a leg or a foot (or in an arm or a hand), see your health care provider for an evaluation. Generally, peripheral vascular disease is not an emergency. On the other hand, it should not be ignored.

  • Medical evaluation of your symptoms and effective treatment, if indicated, may prevent further damage to your heart and blood vessels.
  • It may prevent more drastic events such as a heart attack or stroke or loss of toes and feet.

If you have symptoms of peripheral vascular disease along with any of the following, call 911 for emergency medical care:

  • Pain in the chest, upper back, neck, jaw, or shoulder
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, difficulty walking, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Do not try to "wait it out" at home. Do not try to drive yourself. Call 911 right away for emergency medical transport.

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