What is vascular disease?
Vascular diseases are diseases that affect the blood vessels, either the arteries (which take blood away from the heart), the veins (which take blood back toward the heart) or the smaller vessels. Atherosclerosis, or “hardening” of the arteries, is one of the most common types of vascular disease, including both carotid artery disease and coronary artery disease, but other types include:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Renal artery disease
- Aneurysm, a bulge or weak area in a vessel
- Lymphedema, which causes a buildup of lymph fluid in the tissues
- Clotting disorders
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
What symptoms does vascular disease cause?
Vascular disease can cause different symptoms depending on where it occurs. Peripheral artery disease, for example, can cause numbness, weakness, swelling and a cold sensation in the legs or, less commonly, the arms. Coronary and carotid artery diseases and clotting diseases may cause no symptoms until a heart attack or a stroke occurs. Because many types of vascular diseases can be difficult to diagnose before major events occur, being evaluated for disease is an important part of helping to maintain your health.
How is vascular disease treated?
That depends on the type of disease you have. Some vascular diseases can be treated with medication, while others may require minimally-invasive surgical procedures to correct, and some serious diseases may require more invasive surgeries like arterial bypass. During your office visit, you’ll learn about the options that are best for your needs.
What can I do to prevent vascular disease?
Many types of vascular diseases can be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices like quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet that’s low in sodium and fats and high in fiber, losing excess weight, and being more physically active. Being screened for risk factors for disease is also extremely important.