What is Vascular Disease? We explore the answer to that question in this article. Coastal Vascular Center specializes in treating Vascular Disease. Vascular Disease can be any abnormal condition of the blood vessels. The body uses blood vessels to circulate blood through itself. Problems along this vast network can cause severe disability and death.
Vascular Disease can include stroke, peripheral artery disease (PAD), abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), carotid artery disease (CAD), arteriovenous malformation (AVM), critical limb ischemia (CLI), pulmonary embolism (blood clots), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), and varicose veins.
Who is at Risk for Vascular Disease?
Everyone is at risk for vascular disease. With the increase in obesity and Type II diabetes in the U.S., and as our population ages, vascular diseases are becoming epidemic. PAD alone affects 8.5 million people. It can occur in anyone at any time; affecting men and women equally. Atherosclerosis can begin in adolescence.
How does the Vascular System Affect Vascular Disease?
Your vascular system – the highways of the body – is composed of three types of blood vessels. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart, nourishing every part of the body. Veins carry the blood back to the heart where it is replenished with oxygen. The one exception is the pulmonary artery, which carries oxygen-poor blood from your heart to your lungs, where it exchanges carbon dioxide for oxygen. The newly oxygen-rich blood gets pumped back into the heart via the pulmonary vein.
There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the adult human body. Any problem along this vast network of blood vessels – the vascular system – can cause severe pain, disability and death.
Types of Vascular Conditions Linked to Vascular Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral arterial disease, also know as PAD, encompasses vascular disease occurring in areas of the body other than the heart or brain. It is a result of plaque buildup. Arteries become narrowed or blocked, which causes decreased blood flow. While this disease often occurs in your legs, it may also be reducing blood flow to your heart or brain.
When you develop peripheral arterial disease (PAD), your extremities don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking (claudication). Peripheral arterial disease can often be treated with lifestyle changes, however, treatments may be necessary
If Peripheral Arterial Disease or Vein Reflux Disease progresses it can result in Leg Ulcers. This represents advanced stage disease requiring management with prompt consultation and procedures to allow the wounds to heal and reduce the chance of further tissue loss.
The most severe stage of venous disease can result in open, non-healing sores called venous ulcers. Also referred to as venous insufficiency ulcers or venous stasis ulcers. Venous ulcers most often occur on the ankle and shin area. They rarely occur above the knee.
An abnormal buildup of fluid in tissues called edema is what causes swelling in the legs. Sometimes, painful swollen legs can be caused by lymphatic dysfunction. In other cases, edema can result from long-standing venous reflux. A venous disease that causes spider veins and varicose veins. It can lead to more serious conditions, such as ulcers or skin discoloration.
Bulging and swollen veins may appear in cases of edema caused by venous reflux. These veins typically resemble varicose veins, which are twisted veins that bulge near the surface. In other cases, edema caused by venous reflux can occur without the appearance of bulging veins. In these cases, venous reflux forces fluids to collect and pool in the tissues around the ankle and lower legs, causing the tissues to swell.
Varicose veins are surface veins that have become enlarged, swollen, twisted, and/or bulging due to vein disease. They can be red, blue, or flesh-toned in color and most often appear on the thighs, back of the calves, and inside of the leg.
They are caused by an inability of the veins to properly return blood to the heart. Therefore, the blood pools in the veins and causes them to become swollen and discolored. Varicose veins are often caused by venous reflux disease.
They may not be bulging or painful, but spider veins are still unsightly and unwelcome. Medically referred to as telangiectasia, spider veins are more of a cosmetic than a painful nuisance.
Compared to Varicose Veins, spider veins are are smaller, red, purple, and blue vessels that also twist and turn. They are typically visible on the legs and face. If you are suffering from spider veins, get an appointment with the Houston Spider Vein Treatment Center.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) usually occurs in your thighs or calf muscles when a blood clot is situated within a deep vein in the muscle. The restricted blood flow often causes pain and swelling
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one of your deep veins, often in the legs. DVT can cause severe pain and swelling, which can lower your quality of life or limit your mobility, depending on where it occurs.
If venous reflux disease progresses, it can result in venous stasis hyperpigmentation. The skin above the ankles can become darkly pigmented and thickened. Swelling can also be associated with this condition.
These changes are a result of increased venous pressure and inflammatory reactions that occur in people with chronic venous reflux disease. All patients with these findings should be evaluated by an ultrasound exam to determine if there are specific veins that can be treated.
Health-related information on CoastalVascular.net is for educational purposes only and therefore not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
Credit to vascularcures.org for supplemental information included in this article. Vascular Cures is a national non-profit representing the millions of patients with vascular disease.