What Is Vascular Disease?
Vascular disease is any abnormal condition of the blood vessels (arteries and veins). The body uses blood vessels to circulate blood through itself. Problems along this vast network can cause severe disability and death.
Vascular diseases outside the heart can “present” themselves anywhere. The most common vascular diseases are 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.
Everyone is at risk for vascular disease. With the increase in obesity and Type II diabetes in Americans and as the 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.
Vascular disease commonly occurs at sites of turbulent blood flow, such as when the blood flow in the arteries changes direction abruptly.
Arch Branches supply blood to the brain through the carotid arteries, and when diseased, frequently cause life threatening strokes.
Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart and, when diseased, can block the flow of blood and cause a heart attack. This is a cardiovascular disease and is primarily managed by heart specialists – cardiologists.
Iliac Arteries supply blood to the hips and the legs and, when diseased, cause leg pain with walking (claudication), often in both legs.
Renal Arteries supply blood to the kidneys and, when diseased, can cause high blood pressure and eventually, kidney failure.
Femoral Arteries supply blood to the legs. If they become diseased, it may cause claudication, usually in the calf muscles. This lack of circulation can lead to continuous pain in the toes and foot, and may progress to critical limb ischemia (CLI).