Vascular disease affects your vascular system. Your vascular system is your body’s network of blood vessels. It includes your:
- Arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your tissues and organs
- Veins, which carry the blood and waste products back to your heart
- Capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels that connect your small arteries to your small veins. The walls of the capillaries are thin and leaky, allowing for an exchange of materials between your tissues and blood.
Vascular diseases are conditions that affect your vascular system. They are common and can be serious. Some types include:
- Aneurysm – a bulge or “ballooning” in the wall of an artery
- Atherosclerosis – a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Plaque is a combination of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood.
- Blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
- Coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease, diseases that involve the narrowing or blockage of an artery. The cause is usually a buildup of plaque.
- Raynaud’s disease – a disorder that causes the blood vessels to narrow when you are cold or feeling stressed
- Stroke – a serious condition that happens when blood flow to your brain stops.
- Varicose veins – swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the skin
- Vasculitis – inflammation of the blood vessels
The causes of vascular diseases depend on the specific disease. These causes can include:
- Heart diseases such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Medicines, including hormones
Sometimes the cause is unknown.
The risk factors for vascular diseases can vary, depending on the specific condition. Some of the more common risk factors include:
- Age – your risk of some diseases goes up as you get older
- Conditions that can affect the heart and blood vessels, such as diabetes or high cholesterol
- Family history of vascular or heart diseases
- Infection or injury that damages your veins
- Lack of exercise
- Sitting or standing still for long periods
The symptoms of each disease can be very different.
Vascular Disease Diagnosis
To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. You may have imaging tests and blood tests.
Which treatment you get depends on which vascular disease you have and how severe it is. Types of treatments for vascular diseases include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and getting more exercise
- Medicines, such as blood pressure medicines, blood thinners, cholesterol medicines, and clot-dissolving drugs. In some cases, providers use a catheter to send medicine directly to a blood vessel.
- Non-surgical procedures, such as angioplasty, stenting, and vein ablation
Can vascular disease be prevented?
There are steps you can take to help prevent vascular diseases:
- Make healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and getting more exercise
- Don’t smoke. If you are already a smoker, talk to your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check
- If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar
- Try not to sit or stand for up long periods. If you do need to sit all day, get up and move around every hour or so. If you are traveling on a long trip, you can also wear compression stockings and regularly stretch your legs.
Are you experiencing issues concerning vascular disease? If so, give us a call today at 904-222-6656 or visit our website at DrAshchiHeart.com.