Vascular disease is a condition that affects the arteries and/or veins. Most often, vascular disease affects blood flow, either by blocking or weakening blood vessels, or by damaging the valves that are found in veins. Organs and other body structures may be damaged by vascular disease as a result of decreased or completely blocked blood flow.
The vascular system, also called the circulatory system, is made up of the vessels that carry blood and lymph through the body. The arteries and veins carry blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues and taking away tissue waste matter. The lymph vessels carry lymphatic fluid (a clear, colorless fluid containing water and blood cells). The lymphatic system helps to protect and maintain the fluid environment of the body by filtering and draining lymph away from each region of the body.
Because vascular conditions and diseases may involve more than one of the body’s systems at a time, many types of doctors treat vascular problems. Specialists in vascular medicine and/or surgery work closely with doctors in other specialties, such as internal medicine, interventional radiology, cardiology and others to ensure comprehensive care of patients with vascular conditions.
Causes of Vascular Disease
Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque, which is a deposit of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin in the inner lining of an artery and is the most common cause of vascular disease.
Embolus/thrombus. A blood vessel may be blocked by an embolus (a tiny mass of debris that moves through the bloodstream) or a thrombus (a blood clot).
Inflammation. In general, inflammation of blood vessels is referred to as vasculitis, which includes a range of disorders. Inflammation may lead to narrowing and/or blockage of blood vessels.
Trauma/injury. Trauma or injury involving the blood vessels may lead to inflammation or infection, which can damage the blood vessels and lead to narrowing and/or blockage.
Treatment for peripheral artery disease has two major goals. The first is to manage symptoms, such as leg pain, so that you can resume physical activities. The second is to stop the progression of atherosclerosis throughout your body to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
You may be able to accomplish these goals with lifestyle changes. If those changes are not enough, you need additional medical treatment. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and control pain and other symptoms.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat Peripheral Arterial Disease. Roane Medical Center offers various vascular procedures on-site so patients can receive treatment closer to home in our state-of-the-art facility. Most often this can be done on an outpatient basis.
If you or someone you love has Vascular Disease, ask your doctor about a referral to a specialist who practices at Roane Medical Center. You can contact our Call Center at (865) 316-0000 for a list of vascular surgeons.