About this disease

What it is about

Peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAVD) is a condition in which blood flow to the arteries in the extremities is restricted. In most cases, this is a slowly progressive process with deposits in the vessel walls leading to progressive narrowing (stenosis). In rarer cases, rapid vessel occlusion (occlusion) may occur, acutely cutting off blood flow to an area. In 90% of cases, the arterial vessels of the legs are affected, less frequently the vessels of the arms.

Symptoms and consequences

Often, PAVD develops without symptoms for months or even years, until the blood circulation becomes relevantly impaired. Thereafter, it manifests itself in the form of load-dependent pain in the legs, which disappears again at rest. In more advanced stages, the pain persists even at rest. Finally, wounds, wound healing disorders, tissue damage or dying tissue occur.

What we do for you

Examination and diagnosis

If PAVK is suspected, the physician will compare the blood pressure in the arms with that in the ankles (ankle-brachial index = ABI). Ultrasound can be used to accurately assess vessels and occasionally an angio-MRI will be necessary.


Depending on the severity, the disease is treated differently. A first step is a healthy lifestyle (not smoking, eating a healthy diet and being physically active). Walking exercise improves blood flow in the legs, allowing new blood vessels to form. Anticoagulant medication leads to mild blood thinning, and balloon dilatation can be used to reopen a narrowed or blocked vessel and provide blood flow. Surgery is extremely rarely necessary.

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