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Can peripheral vascular disease be fatal?

Dr. Justin P. Levisay, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) in the arteries of the leg is rarely fatal by itself. It can, however, lead to amputation or skin breakdown, which can then lead to a fatal infection. By far the most common reasons for people with PVD to have a fatal event are related to the high concordance of coronary artery disease and stroke associated with PVD. This is why it's so important to be involved with a vascular physician who can screen and treat not only PVD, but also coronary artery disease and disease of the carotid arteries.

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) can be fatal. As fatty deposits build up in the blood vessels, a reduction in blood flow can lead to gangrene in extremities or even amputation. PVD is one type of atherosclerosis (blockage disease); if you have blockage in one area you likely have it in many more. Forty percent of people diagnosed with PVD do not survive five years, mostly because they die of heart attacks and strokes, both of which are caused by atherosclerosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.