Causes and risk factors of peripheral vascular disease
The main cause of peripheral vascular disease is atherosclerosis, which means deposition of fatty material (atherosclerotic plaques) in the wall of blood vessels. With time, these plaques reduce the blood flow through the affected vessels and may block it.
Risk factors of atherosclerosis raise the risk of peripheral vascular disease, and they include non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors, as follows:
A) Non-modifiable risk factors:
- Age more than 50 years old
- Males have a risk two times more than females.
- Positive family history
- Type A personality
B) Modifiable risk factors:
- Smoking is the most significant risk factor, either first or second-hand smoking. Every cigarette raises the risk of peripheral vascular disease more and more. 90% of patients with peripheral vascular disease are smokers.
- Diabetes mellitus increases the risk of all cardiovascular diseases, including peripheral vascular disease. It also increases the risk of complications, such as gangrene.
- Hypertension is a common risk factor for atherosclerosis because it damages the wall of the blood vessels.
- Dyslipidemia means high levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), low levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), and high triglycerides in the blood, which raises the risk of atherosclerosis.
- Obesity and overweight
- A sedentary lifestyle with minimal or no physical activity raises the risk of atherosclerosis and all cardiovascular diseases.
Other causes of peripheral vascular disease include:
1. Vasculitis: Inflammation of blood vessels narrow their lumen and impairs blood flow.
2. Injury of blood vessels as in accidents
3. Some inherited structural disorders cause the narrowing of blood vessels.
4. Infections such as syphilis
5. Cold temperature can cause vasospasm and decrease the blood flow to the peripheral tissues.
6. Stress: Chronic stress increases the sympathetic tone, which leads to vasoconstriction, raises blood pressure, and reduce blood flow through the vessels.
⇒ Now, we will discuss how peripheral vascular disease occurs.