Understanding Vascular Disease2018-11-20T16:32:50+00:00

Understanding Vascular Disease

Your vascular system is made up of vessels that carry your blood throughout your body. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart, while veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to your heart.

As we age, our arteries tend to thicken, get stiffer, and narrow. This is called arteriosclerosis. A form of arteriosclerosis is atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque and cholesterol in large and medium-sized arteries. A narrowing of the arteries from the build-up of plaque can lead to coronary heart disease, and can cause a heart attack when this occurs in the blood vessels leading to the heart.

Vascular disease is caused by blockages in the arteries as a result of buildup of plaque and cholesterol. Arteries throughout the body carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart, so blockages can occur in all arteries with serious effects. Vascular disease defines a wide array of circulatory deficiencies and can encompass any condition that affects your circulatory system, such as peripheral artery disease. This ranges from diseases of your arteries, veins and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation.

Factors which increase the risk of developing Vascular Disease include, but are not limited to, smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and increasing age after reaching the age of 50.

Peripheral artery disease (or PAD) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.  Over 3 million cases of PAD are diagnosed in the United States a year. PAD is caused by the buildup of fat and cholesterol deposits, called plaque, on the inside walls of the arteries. Over time, the build-up narrows the artery and causes circulatory issues within the limbs.

PAD is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries in other parts of your body. This condition may be reducing blood flow to your heart and brain, as well as your legs.

Often, people with PAD will experience no symptoms. When symptoms are present, patients experience pain or cramping in the legs or arms which is caused by physical activity and dissipates after a few minutes of rest. In most cases, the location of the pain dictates the location of the clogged artery.  Early on, PAD may only cause difficulty walking, but in its most severe forms, it can cause painful foot ulcers, infections, and even gangrene, which could require amputation. People with PAD are three times more likely to die of heart attacks or strokes than those without PAD.

The overall goals for treating PAD are to reduce any symptoms, improve the quality of life and mobility, and prevent heart attack, stroke, and amputation. There are three main approaches to treating P.A.D.: making lifestyle changes; taking medication; and in some cases, having a special procedure or surgery.

At Metro Vascular Centers we offer several treatment options using the latest technology to successfully treat PAD.

1. Varying Degrees of Leg Pain, Especially after Physical Activity

2. Your Legs Begin to Change Appearance

  • – Loss and or Thinning of Leg Hair
  • – Shiny Skin
  • – Slow toenail growth
  • – Blue Tinged Leg
  • – Cold Legs

3. Stubborn Ulcers on Your legs and Your Lower Half

Dry, dark, or even black sores that do not heal are a sign of arterial ulcers that may have gotten infected

4. When Taking Cold or Allergy Meds Trigger Symptoms or Outright Worsen Them.

Medicines containing pseudoephedrine (such asTylenol® Cold, Sudafed®, Advil® Cold and Sinus, Claritin-D®, etc.) can worsen PAD by constricting blood vessels that are already narrowed.

5. Being in Any of These Risk Groups.

  • – Kidney Disease
  • – Obesity
  • – History of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or smoke inhalation
  • – Family history of PAD, stroke or heart attack.

Are You or Your Patient Suffering from PAD or other endovascular conditions?

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