Epidemiology of peripheral vascular disease: a predictor of systemic vascular disease

Ostomy Wound Manage. 1998 May;44(5):58-62, 64, 66 passim.


It is estimated that peripheral vascular disease (PVD) affects 30 percent of the adult population, and two-thirds of all cases are asymptomatic. Detecting PVD can be relatively easy and inexpensive, and based either on subjectively supplied historical information (claudication) or upon physical examination findings [ankle-brachial index (ABI)]. The ABI may serve as a marker for increased risk for systemic vascular disease as an abnormally low ABI has been shown to be associated with systemic vascular disease. Epidemiology of and risk factors for PVD are in similar to coronary heart disease. PVD is uncommon until middle age and then increases dramatically. Prevalence of PVD is slightly higher in men than women, yet this tends to diminish with age. Cigarette smoking is probably the most important risk factor for PVD. Hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes are also risk factors for the development of symptomatic PVD. Conversely, the presence of a high degree of physical activity and higher levels of HDL-cholesterol as well as a lower body mass index (BMI) are protective. Patients who have vascular disease in one organ system often exhibit evidence of vascular disease elsewhere. Presence of coronary artery disease among patients with symptomatic PVD is between two and four times higher than those without PVD, and PVD is also associated with cerebrovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / complications*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors