What are risk factors for peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?

There are things that put you at high risk for getting peripheral vascular disorders (PVDs) that you may not be able to change. These are:

  • Being on bedrest after an illness or injury.
  • Having diabetes.
  • Increasing age. As you get older, your blood vessels become less flexible.
  • Long periods without activity, like sitting or standing for several hours without moving around.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Someone else in your family having heart or blood vessel disease.

Lifestyle factors are things that you can change in the way that you live. Certain lifestyle factors increase your chances of getting PVDs. These include:

  • Hyperlipidemia: This is a high amount of fats, or cholesterol in your blood. This may be caused by a diet high in fat and cholesterol.
  • Not exercising regularly or at all.
  • Obesity: This means that you are 20 percent or more over the best weight for your body size. Your doctor will tell you if you are obese.
  • Smoking.

You may have one or more of the following medical conditions. These conditions may lead to PVDs over time:

  • A history of thrombus or embolus (blood clots).
  • End stage renal (kidney) disease (ESRD).
  • Heart failure or coronary artery disease (CAD).
  • Inflammation (swelling) in your legs.
  • Your blood clots faster or more easily than normal.

General risk factors for PVD include:

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Physical inactivity
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of PVD, heart disease or stroke
  • Age—as you get older, your risk increases

Additional risk factors for artery problems include diabetes and high blood cholesterol.

Additional risk factors for vein problems include standing or sitting for long periods.

Dr. Michael L. Schwartz, MD
Vascular Surgeon

Risk factors for peripheral vascular disease (PVD), which develops when plaque builds up in a normal artery, include the following:

  • smoking
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • obesity
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • genetics

Risk factors for developing peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or plaque inside of arteries include diabetes, smoking, hypercholesterolemia and hypertension. Genetics (family history) also plays a significant role.

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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.