Vascular Conditions

Vascular conditions impact the circulatory system, affecting the blood vessels and arteries located in the arms, legs, and internal organs. The three primary types of blood vessels that can become affected by these conditions include the following.

  • Arteries: These carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to all the other parts of your body. 
  • Veins: These are in charge of carrying your blood back to the heart, where they get replenished with oxygen. 
  • Capillaries: These filaments connect your arteries to the veins.

Causes of Vascular Conditions

Arterial and vein blood flow issues are usually caused by lifestyle choices, genetics, or infections. Some other causes include:

  • Injuries
  • Diabetes
  • Use of tobacco products
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure

Types of Vascular Conditions

There are multiple types of vascular conditions that affect the arteries and vein blood flow.

Aneurysm

An aneurysm happens when there is a weakened area of the artery wall, creating a bulge that can lead to a rupture of the blood vessel. In most cases, aneurysms develop gradually and produce no symptoms until they rupture and leak blood along the vessel wall.

There are three main types of aneurysms:

  • Abdominal Aneurysm: This condition refers to the swelling in the aorta, the artery in charge of providing blood from the heart to the abdomen. 
  • Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm: This disease occurs when the weakened artery walls form balloon-like bulges in the body’s main blood vessel. 
  • Peripheral Aneurysm: This condition happens when the artery located in the legs or neck becomes enlarged and weakened.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease happens when the arteries in the legs or arms become narrowed. This usually occurs due to an accumulation of cholesterol and fats in the arteries, making it hard for oxygen-rich blood to reach the limbs.

Peripheral artery disease symptoms may include:

  • Painful cramping when walking
  • Coldness on one leg or foot
  • Weak pulse in the legs or feet
  • Skin color changes
  • Slower toenail growth
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Hair loss on legs

If left untreated, peripheral artery disease can lead to severe effects, including severe leg pain that could make it difficult to perform regular activities. 

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease happens when plaque deposits cause the carotid arteries to narrow. The carotid artery is in charge of delivering blood to your brain and head. When this artery narrows, it could interrupt or reduce the blood flow, increasing your risk of a stroke.

In its early stages, this condition does not often show noticeable symptoms. It is not until the disease has significantly progressed that it may lead to severe issues like a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA). 

Symptoms of a stroke or TIA include:

  • Numbness and/or weakness in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • Having trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Having trouble with vision or hearing
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Severe migraine headaches

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a vascular condition that occurs with the formation of blood clots in deep veins. These usually appear in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis.

Blood clots can pose serious health risks if they dislodge and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. 

DVT can develop due to conditions that affect how the blood clots, such as cancer or obesity, or from prolonged stillness of the body. Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include:

  • Swelling in legs, thigh, or pelvis
  • Pain, cramping, or soreness in the legs that often starts in the calf
  • Skin color changes in the legs

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are a common vascular condition that occurs when the veins become enlarged, twisted, and visibly protrude under the skin's surface. While they can develop in any part of the body, they most commonly affect the legs and feet. 

Varicose veins are often a result of weakened or damaged valves within the veins, leading to poor blood circulation. Several factors contribute to the development of varicose veins, including genetics, age, and gender. Additionally, jobs that involve prolonged periods of standing or sitting may contribute to the development of varicose veins.

Common symptoms of varicose veins may include:

  • Visible, swollen veins that are blue or dark purple in color and are easily visible on the skin's surface.
  • Discomfort, pain, or aching in the affected area, especially after long periods of standing or sitting.
  • Legs may feel heavy or tired, particularly at the end of the day.
  • Itching or a burning sensation around the affected veins.

Hypertension

Hypertension happens when the force with which blood pushes the artery walls is consistently too high. This pushes the heart to work harder to pump blood, which can lead to severe health issues like heart disease.

Blood pressure levels are divided into four general categories according to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association:

  • Normal blood pressure: 120/80 mm Hg or lower.
  • Elevated blood pressure: 120 to 129/80 mm Hg or lower
  • Stage 1 hypertension: 130 to 139/80 to 89 mm Hg
  • Stage 2 hypertension. 140 or higher/90 or higher mm Hg

Usually, high blood pressure does not cause evident symptoms. When they do appear, they may include headaches, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds. 

Treating Vascular Conditions

Treatment plans for vascular conditions range from conservative options, such as lifestyle changes and medication, to minimally invasive procedures.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of vascular conditions and significantly decrease the risk of complications. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Avoiding high sodium intake
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing your stress level
  • Avoiding smoking

Medication

Some medications that can be used to treat vascular conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, include:

  • Lipid-lowering medications: These are used to decrease the levels of fat or “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Common lipid-lowering medications include fibrates and statins. 
  • Blood pressure management medications: Beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics all help in different ways to lower and manage high blood pressure. It is common for two or more of these options to be used simultaneously for better results. 
  • Anti-blood clotting (platelet) medication: One of the most common antiplatelet medications is Aspirin, which helps prevent blood clots from forming. 

Minimally Invasive Procedures

When conservative treatments and medications do not improve blood flow, minimally invasive procedures may be recommended:

  • Atherectomy: A small catheter is used to remove the plaque located within the blood vessels.
  • Angioplasty: A small balloon is inserted into the affected blood vessel to clear out the clogged space.
  • Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT): Pulses of laser light are used to collapse and seal damaged veins. 
  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): Similar to EVLT, this procedure uses radiofrequency energy to heat up and disintegrate damaged veins.  

Access Quality Vascular Care in Florida

Relying on Twin Lakes Heart Center means trusting over three decades of cardiovascular care expertise. 

We are committed to offering the best in cardiovascular care in Florida through a preventative, patient-centered approach. For same-day appointments or inquiries, please get in touch through our contact form or call us at 561-241-4210

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