Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Complications of peripheral vascular disease

2-minute read

Limb ischaemia

Limb ischaemia (lacking blood supply) occurs when blood flow to the limbs is severely restricted by fatty deposits on artery walls. It only happens in severe cases of peripheral vascular disease, and is a very serious situation.

Symptoms include:

  • A severe burning pain in your legs and feet even when you are resting; the pain often occurs at night and episodes of pain can last several hours.
  • Your skin turns pale, shiny, smooth and dry.
  • You have wounds and ulcers (open sores) in your feet and legs that show no sign of healing.
  • The muscles in your legs begin to waste away.
  • The skin on your toes or lower limbs become cold and numb and turns reddish and then black or begins to swell and produce foul-smelling pus, causing severe pain.

If you think you are developing the symptoms of limb ischaemia, contact your doctor immediately.

Treatment includes angioplasty or bypass graft. However, these may not always be successful and you may later require an amputation below the knee.

It is an extremely serious complication that can be challenging to treat and if combined with an infection can result in death.

Heart attacks or stroke

The cause of your peripheral vascular disease can also affect the arteries supplying blood to your heart and brain. If you have the condition, you're more likely to have angina, a heart attack, a stroke or coronary heart disease.

Last reviewed: January 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Peripheral arterial disease (Arteriosclerosis) | myVMC

Arteriosclerosis of the extremities is a disease of the blood vessels characterized by narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply the legs and feet

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease is the reduced circulation of blood to a body part other than the brain or heart. It is caused by a narrowed or blocked blood vessel. The main cause is atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of fatty deposits that narrow a blood vessel, usually an artery. The narrowed blood vessel reduces the circulation of blood to the associated body part.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Peripheral arterial disease - myDr.com.au

Peripheral arterial disease refers to a narrowing of the blood vessels in the legs. Find out about the symptoms, risk factors, tests and treatment.

Read more on myDr website

Raynaud phenomenon - ACD

Raynaud phenomenon is an intermittent constriction of the blood flow to the fingers and toes precipitated by cold, emotion and some drugs that cause spasm of the small arteries bringing blood to the fingers and toes.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Raynaud's phenomenon - Better Health Channel

Raynaud's phenomenon can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, so see your doctor if you experience it.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

What is Raynaud’s phenomenon?

Raynaud’s phenomenon is the name given to the temporary interruption of blood supply to the fingers or toes (occasionally the ears and nose), which occurs as a result of spasm causing the vessel to squeeze and get smaller.

Read more on Autoimmune Resource and Research Centre website

Raynaud's Phenomenon (Raynaud's disease) | myVMC

Raynaud's Phenomenon causes narrowing of the blood vessels which leads to impaired blood supply and tissue death in fingers, toes, ears and nose.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Raynaud's Phenomenon Raynaud's disease | myVMC

Medical information about Raynaud's disease constriction of blood vessel in Raynauds Syndrome symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon treatment

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Raynauds phenomenon - Musculoskeletal Australia (MSK)

Key points | Symptoms |Primary Raynauds phenomenon |Secondary Raynauds phenomenon | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention |Complications | Where to get help | How we can help | More to explore| Download PDFRaynauds phenomenon is a condition that can cause discomfort as the blood supply to your extremities becomes reduced

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website

Primary erythromelalgia | myVMC

Erythromelalgia is a rare disease of unknown cause, characterized by redness of the skin, increased temperature, and pain in the extremities (feet and hands), which usually occurs in response to warmth and moderate exercise

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback