2004-09-03 / Savvy Senior


Dear Savvy Senior

I started a walking program a few months ago to help me lose some weight but I’ve been having some problems with my legs hurting during my walk, although they feel better once I stop. I thought it was just the fact that I am 65 and getting older, but my friend was telling me about a leg vein disease called PVD and thinks I may have it. Do you know about this, and if so, could you explain what might be going on and what to do about it?

Limping Legs

Dear Limping,

Your friend could have a point. PVD, known as peripheral vascular disease, is a disease of the arteries that affects over 10 million Americans. The problem with PVD is that people with it have a greater risk for heart attack, stroke and abdominal aortic aneurysm

PVD happens when an artery that carries blood to the arms or legs becomes clogged or blocked. It’s usually caused by arteriosclerosis, also known as “hardening of the arteries,” the same thing that causes heart disease and stroke. Many people with PVD have few, if any, symptoms. The most common one, however, is leg pain, especially when walking or ex-ercising, that usually disappears after resting for a few minutes. Many people assume, like yourself, that aches and pains go along with aging and simply live with it instead of reporting it to their doctor. But, early diagnosis and treatment can save lives.

Risk Factors

PVD can happen to anyone but it is most common in people age 50 and over. There are several factors that can increase your risk of having PVD that includes smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, a family history of heart or vascular disease, being overweight, an inactive lifestyle, and eating lots fried or fatty foods.


Many people with PVD don’t have any symptoms. However, here are some things to watch out for.

• Leg or hip pain when walking, which disappears after a few minutes of rest

• Numbness, tingling or weakness in the lower legs and feet

• Burning or aching pain in the feet or toes when resting

• Sores on the legs or feet that won’t heal

• Cold lower legs and feet

• Color changes in the skin on your legs or feet

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org.

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