Merck Manual

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Overview of Peripheral Arterial Disease

(Peripheral Vascular Disease)

By

Koon K. Teo

, MBBCh, PhD, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Last full review/revision May 2021| Content last modified May 2021
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Peripheral arterial disease results in reduced blood flow in the arteries of the trunk, arms, and legs.

Causes

Peripheral arterial disease may be described as

In functional peripheral arterial disease, blood flow is decreased because the arteries do not function properly. Usually the dysfunction involves a sudden, abnormal contraction of the muscles (spasm) within the walls of the blood vessels. The spasm causes a temporary narrowing that reduces blood flow. More rarely, the condition is due to abnormal relaxation of the muscles within the walls of the blood vessels, leading to a widening (vasodilation) of arteries. Acrocyanosis Acrocyanosis Acrocyanosis, a functional peripheral arterial disease, is a persistent, painless bluish discoloration of both hands and, less commonly, of both feet, caused by spasm of the small blood vessels... read more Acrocyanosis , erythromelalgia Erythromelalgia Erythromelalgia is a rare syndrome in which small arteries (arterioles) of the skin dilate periodically, causing a burning pain, making the skin feel hot, and making the feet and, less often... read more , and Raynaud syndrome Raynaud Syndrome Raynaud syndrome, a functional peripheral arterial disease, is a condition in which small arteries (arterioles), usually in the fingers or toes, narrow (constrict) more tightly than normal in... read more Raynaud Syndrome are examples of functional peripheral vascular diseases.

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