Vascular disease is any sort of problem that affects the body’s network of blood vessels, which include the veins, arteries, and capillaries. The many types of vascular disease include peripheral arterial disease, in which the arteries to the legs become blocked; abdominal aortic aneurysms, in which an aneurysm occurs below the kidneys; carotid artery disease, in which arteries to the brain become blocked; and deep vein thrombosis, in which a blood clot appears in the legs, pelvis or upper extremities.
The symptoms of the vascular disease can vary depending on which type patients suffer from. For peripheral artery disease, patients might notice leg pain when walking, leg numbness or weakness, coldness in the feet, a color change and hair loss in the legs, or a weak pulse in the legs.
For an abdominal aortic aneurysm, patients might experience pain in the abdomen and lower back as well as an abdominal pulsation. Patients with carotid artery disease typically have weakness or numbness in the extremities or face, changes in vision, slurring of speech, dizziness, and confusion. Deep vein thrombosis usually has no symptoms, but it can cause leg swelling, discoloration, and pain.
The risk factors for vascular disease vary depending on the type of problem the patient has, but common causes include smoking, a family history of vascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, being over 65, and obesity.
The causes of deep vein thrombosis are slightly different. These include trauma to the legs, prolonged travel, surgery, family history, slow blood flow, quick clotting factors, and irritation of the lining of the vein.
The best ways to stop vascular disease from progressing are to stop smoking, get blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes under control, take blood thinners, and to exercise regularly.
Surgical intervention may also be necessary. For an aneurysm, a surgeon can perform endovascular aneurysm repair to replace the aorta. For PAD, a bypass surgery creates a detour for the blocked blood.