What is Vascular Disease?
Your vascular system is made up of blood vessels that carry blood throughout your body. Arteries carry blood away you’re your heart. Veins return blood to your heart. Vascular disease includes those conditions that affect your circulatory system.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD is a common condition in people 50 years or older. PAD is the obstruction or narrowing of the peripheral arteries (those outside the heart and brain) – most commonly, the arteries in the pelvis and legs. It occurs when there is a fatty build up in the blood vessels that carry blood outside of your heart and brain.
PAD is a major cause of amputations and ulcerations of lower extremities in the U.S. Risk factors for PAD include diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Half of the people who have PAD don’t experience any symptoms, but symptoms may include:
- Painful cramping in the legs or buttocks when walking or moving, which goes away when you rest. The pain can be severe and limit your ability to participate in activities.
- Burning or aching pain in your feet and toes while resting especially at night while lying flat.
- Cool skin in your feet.
- Redness or color changes in your skin.
- Sores on your toes and feet that do not heal.
Other vascular conditions that you often hear about include:
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA) – Weakened, bulging area in the lower part of the aorta. The aorta is the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body.
Aneurysm - The ballooning at a weak spot in an artery wall.
Carotid Artery Stenosis – The carotid arteries are the two larger arteries that supply oxygen rich blood to your brain. Carotid Artery Stenosis occurs when a blockage occurs in a carotid artery. When a carotid artery is blocked, your risk of a stroke greatly increases.
Coronary Artery Disease – A condition where plaque builds up inside your coronary artery. Your coronary artery is the main artery that provides blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) – DVT is the formation of a blood clot inside a deep vein, usually in the leg or calf. DVT occurs when the clot partially or completely blocks blood flow. Symptoms may include:
- Swelling in your legs, ankles and feet.
- Pain in your legs, ankles and feet often starting in the calf. It can feel like cramping or a Charley Horse.
- Redness and warmth over the affected area.
- Pain or swelling in your arms and neck.
Occlusions – Occluded blood vessels in legs and neck are blocked blood vessels.
Varicose Veins – Varicose veins are enlarged veins, usually seen in the legs. They look blue or dark purple and appear to be twisted or bulging. These are largely a cosmetic issue but can lead to more serious issues such as leg pain, swelling, or cramping. Varicose veins often develop from an inactive or sedentary lifestyle, weight gain, prolonged standing or pregnancy.