Vascular Associates of Northern Virginia

Timely and considerate care of the arterial and venous systems.

Peripheral Arterial (or Vascular) Disease (PAD or PVD)-Part 1

Anatomy and Function

Arteries are blood vessels lined with muscle cells carrying blood, rich in oxygen and other important components, away from the heart to different parts of the body.  This provides all organs and parts of the body with necessary ingredients to produce energy in order to carry out the necessary functions.

Arteries in the periphery (arms and legs) supply blood to the muscles in order for them to work and cause movement.  As the demand for oxygen increases in the muscles, the blood flow in the arteries increases as a result.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Sometimes it is referred to as peripheral vascular disease (PVD).  PAD can occur in either the arms or the legs.  If someone has PAD, the arteries cannot perform their function appropriately.  Thus, blood supply would not be adequate when the demand for oxygen and other components in the blood increases in the muscles.

For example, if someone starts walking, the muscles in the legs will demand more oxygen to create the energy needed for the muscles to contract and produce the walking movement.  If someone has PAD, these muscles will not receive the adequate amount of oxygen and other important components to contract and relax as needed.  As a result, pain, fatigue, or cramping would most likely develop in the legs.  Depending on the severity of the disease, people with PAD might not have symptoms unless they start walking fast or while jogging or running, others might have them just by walking.  This is called intermittent claudication.


PAD is caused by either a blockage or narrowing of one or more of the arteries supplying the arms or legs.  This process is called atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis happens when there is an injury to the smooth inner wall of the artery.  This injury leads to the buildup of fatty materials on the inner wall called plaque and begins to narrow the artery.

There are other uncommon causes of PAD such as inflammation of the arteries, injury to the limbs, uncommon anatomy, or radiation exposure.


The information mentioned above is only for awareness and it does not substitute a medical advice by your healthcare provider.  If you suspect any medical problems, it is important you talk with your doctor. 


Vascular Associates of Norther Virginia, P.C.
Vascular Laboratory

Our vascular surgeons:
Robert S. Podolsky, M.D.
Avisesh Sahgal, M.D.

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