Vascular Disease

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    The heart is arguably one of the most vital organs in the human body. The heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. As the heart pumps blood, it nourishes the body with rich oxygenated blood and carries carbon dioxide to the lungs and out of the body.

    The heart pumps blood through a system of blood vessels called the circular system, also known as the cardiovascular or vascular system. This organ system circulates the blood vessels, which contain nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells to and from our cells in our body. This provides nutrients, helps your body to fight off diseases, and helps to maintain your body. The vessels are elastic tubes that carry blood to every part of the body. Arteries carry blood away from the heart while veins return it.

    As we get older, the blood flow to our extremities, especially to the lower extremities, is not as efficient for various reasons, like plaque build-ups that will induce and cause various diseases. Peripheral vascular disease includes any condition that affects the circulatory system. Vascular disease ranges from diseases of your arteries, veins, and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation. In addition, Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a condition where blood vessels outside the heart and brain can spasm, narrow, or become blocked. The following are conditions that fall under the category of vascular disease.

    What is Vascular Disease?

    Vascular disease, also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), is a condition that affects blood circulation. This disorder causes various blood vessels outside the brain and heart to block, narrow, or spasm. Peripheral vascular disease can affect either veins or arteries.

    Typically, vascular disease can often cause fatigue and pain. The pain is usually accumulated in the legs, especially when exercising or actively on your legs when walking or working. However, the pain can subside after resting.

    Vascular disease

    However, peripheral vascular disease is not limited to the legs. The condition may also affect blood vessels tasked with supplying oxygen to various parts of the body. These include blood vessels to the intestines, stomach, kidneys, and arms.

    Patients suffering from peripheral vascular disease experience narrowing blood vessels, consequently decreasing blood flow to certain parts of the body, particularly in the lower extremities. This can be caused by the hardening of arteries, also known as arteriosclerosis. In some cases, PVD can also be caused by blood vessel spasms.

    In the case of arteriosclerosis, plaques accumulate in the blood vessel and reduce the flow of oxygenated blood to the limbs and other organs. When not managed in good time, the plaque buildup continues and may lead to blood clots, which could block the arteries completely. Consequently, this blockage may lead to organ damage and the loss of toes, fingers, and limbs. This highlights the importance of getting treatment for the vascular disease as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more adverse the effects may be.

    Vascular disease is sometimes referred to as a peripheral arterial disease, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. However, the key difference between peripheral vascular disease and peripheral arterial disease is that the latter only affects arteries –that carry oxygen-rich blood to various organs from the heart.

    Statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reveal that about 20% of people develop the peripheral arterial disease. PAD is the most common condition of PVD. However, other terms used to define the condition include:

    • Claudication
    • Arterial insufficiency of the legs
    • Intermittent claudication
    • Arteriosclerosis obliterans
    • Non-healing Ulcers

    There are numerous risk factors linked to PVD. Some of the top risk factors include:

    • Age – people over 50 years stand a higher risk for PVD
    • Obesity and Being Overweight
    • Having Irregular Cholesterol
    • Previous Heart Disease Incident
    • Diabetes
    • Hemodialysis and Kidney Disease
    • Familiar ties to high cholesterol, PVD, or high blood pressure
    • Pregnancy
    • A History of Strokes and other Cardiovascular Diseases

    Lifestyle choices can also increase your chances of suffering from vascular disease. Some of the notable lifestyle choices contributing to PVD include;

    • Smoking
    • Poor Dietary Habits
    • Drug Use
    • Lack of Physical Exercise

    In most cases, the symptoms of the vascular disease start slowly or irregularly, then get more intense with time and lack of medical intervention. At the start, you may feel more tired than usual and experience cramping. The pain usually gets worse with exercise due to blood flow constrictions.

    Other symptoms linked with vascular disease differ depending on the affected areas. Some of the specific symptoms include;

    • Legs – Cramps when lying down and reduced hair growth
    • Legs and arms – Discoloration and turning pale or reddish-blue
    • Legs and feet – Weak pulses, pale and thin skin, chronic ulcers and wounds
    • Toes – Severe burning sensation, thick and opaque toenails, and a general blue discoloration

    If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical intervention. Unfortunately, most of these symptoms get brushed aside as a result of old age. However, delayed care and attention only worsen the situation, and in extreme cases, you may contract gangrene and blood loss.

    The other common symptom associated with vascular disease is claudication. This is a distinguishable lower limb muscle pain, especially when you’re walking. At times, the pain may intensify when you walk for long and fast. However, after some time or rest, the pain can go away or gradually reduce. Claudication happens when there isn’t enough flow of blood to the muscle.

    As the vascular disease progresses, the symptoms could get worse and become more frequent. Eventually, fatigue and pain can become more common, even when you’re resting. If you notice any of these symptoms, get a vascular surgeon or specialist opinion and get the right treatment to reduce pain and improve blood flow.

    If the peripheral vascular disease is not treated or managed, it can get serious and, in some cases, life-threatening. Additionally, the restriction of blood flow to the body can be a warning of serious vascular disease progression.

    Some of the top health complications of PVD include:

    • Pale skin
    • Tissue death that may lead to amputation
    • Pain with movement and when resting
    • Chronic open wounds
    • Severe pain making it hard to walk
    • Life-threatening toxicities in the bloodstream and bones

    In serious complications affecting arteries bringing blood to the brain and heart, the arteries can get clogged, leading to stroke, heart attack, and even death.

    Early diagnosis of peripheral vascular diagnosis is the first step to effective treatment. Moreover, early detection and management can help prevent life-threatening complications. Let your doctor know immediately you start experiencing any typical symptoms of vascular diseases, such as claudication.

    The healthcare professional may inquire about your medical history for a proper diagnosis before performing any physical exam. Usually, the physical test includes measuring pulses in your limbs. If there’s a swooshing sound after a stethoscope search, it likely means you have certain narrowed vessels.

    Additionally, to get specific results, the doctor could also order several other tests. Some of these are;

    • A Doppler ultrasound to monitor the flow of blood in the vessels
    • An angiography to diagnose any clogged arteries
    • A CT scan to show images of blood vessels and diagnose a blockage
    • An ankle-brachial index to compare blood flow from various limbs

    There are two main objectives when considering peripheral vascular disease (PVD) treatment. These include stopping the disease from further progression and managing the symptoms and pain so you can be active. Moreover, PVD treatment significantly reduces the risk of serious complications.

    The initial treatment for PVD involves making lifestyle changes. For example, the healthcare professional may recommend regular exercise, losing weight, and a proper diet.

    Additionally, if you smoke tobacco, you should quit as it directly reduces blood flow. Smoking also worsens PVD and could lead to stroke and heart attack.

    If the first line of treatment fails, or if the PVD has already progressed, then the doctor may suggest medication such as;

    • Pentoxifylline or cilostazol to boost blood flow
    • Daily aspirin or clopidogrel to lower chances of blood clot formation
    • Diabetes medication to regulate blood sugar
    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE) to regulate blood pressure
    • Simvastatin, Atorvastatin to lower cholesterol

    In cases where there’s significant artery blockage, treatment options may include surgery or angioplasty. The surgery helps open up clogged arteries and get your blood flowing efficiently.

    You can lower your chances of developing the vascular disease by;

    • Avoiding tobacco smoking, chewing, and intake
    • Controlling blood sugar for those with diabetes
    • Maintaining a healthy weight
    • Eating a proper diet and reducing unhealthy fat intake
    • Regular exercise and working out

    Why Choose Pedes Orange County

    At Pedes Orange County, we offer coordinated care to prevent, diagnose, and treat venous disease. We understand, everyone deserves to live a long, happy life. The venous disease may lead to limb loss and other life-threatening conditions such as pulmonary embolism. Our licensed physicians use state-of-the-art tools and technology to tackle all your problems related to your venous system. Thanks to our vast wealth of experience, we also work with the patient to develop a unique solution that fits your needs. Contact us today to learn more about the venous disease treatment we offer and schedule an appointment today!

    What to Expect from Your Visit to Pedes



    Your treatment will begin with an ultrasound examination of your veins, arteries, or both, in your legs to diagnose the presence and extent of the disease. Your test results will be immediately available to review with the doctor.