Vascular disease includes any condition that affects the circulatory system in the body. The two major vessels that define the circulatory system are arteries and veins.
- Arteries: carry blood away from the heart to upper and lower extremities
- Veins: return blood back to the heart
Common conditions patients may suffer from, but not limited to, are: peripheral arterial disease (PAD), abdominal aortic aneurysms, carotid artery disease, varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) .
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) affects the circulation of blood to your legs. A buildup of fatty, waxy plaque deposits called atherosclerosis, narrows or blocks the major arteries. Often patients will suffer from cramping or aching in their buttocks, thighs, or calves after a short walk. When PAD progresses, patients will notice non-healing ulcers around their ankles or development of gangrene. Many of these patients are then at risk for losing their limbs.
The patients usually at risk for the development of PAD are: Diabetic, Smokers, Hypertensive and High Cholesterol
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
The largest artery in your body is the aorta. It runs from the heart down through your chest and into your abdominal region. This region is responsible for delivering blood to your legs, GI tract and kidneys. When the walls of the aorta progressively weaken and begins to expand, an aneurysm occurs. If left untreated, it will rupture, create internal bleeding and possibly death. The majority of patients are asymptomatic and in some case they will feel unexplained pain in their abdomen or back.
Patients that are prone to suffer from Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAAs) are: Males with a history of aneurysms in the family, patients diagnosed with Peripheral Arterial Disease, Smokers, the Elderly, those with chronic lung disease and, Hypertensive Individuals.
There are four arteries that supply blood flow to the brain: two vertebral arteries passing along the back of the neck, and two carotid arteries passing in front of the neck. Narrowing of the carotid arteries in front of the neck is the most common condition for these vessels. The narrowing is due to a fatty, waxy plaque buildup. This buildup occurs over time, putting a patient at risk for a stroke.
Most often patients with carotid artery disease are asymptomatic and are identified by their personal physician as having a “whooshing” sound in the neck, also known as bruit (pronounced “brewee”). A minority of patients do experience sudden symptoms of transient ischemic attacks (mini strokes) that are due to temporary reduction of blood circulation to one part of the brain. If the symptoms last longer than 24 hours, the patient is then considered to have had a stroke. Stroke means that a portion of the brain has ceased to function because of a severe reduction in blood flow.
Veins return blood back to the heart. In order to prevent blood from flowing backwards, there are several small leaflet valves located in veins. When these leaflet valves stop working properly or become damaged; blood begins to pool in the veins and enlarged, twisted cords, raise above the skin. These twisted cords are called varicose veins, and often they appear to be blue, red or flesh color. More often than not, they are a cosmetic problem, where life-threatening complications are uncommon.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a condition that occurs over time. Individuals that are susceptible to CVI usually have occupations that sit or stand for long periods of time. These two actions cause blood to pool, that in return weakens the vein walls and damages vein valves. Patients may experience swelling, tired, restless, legs; or CVI may occur because varicose veins have gone left untreated. CVI is usually not consider a serious health risk, and once you consult your physician they will be able to determine the best treatment option.