What is Vascular Disease?
At least half of the people with vascular disorders have no symptoms.
It is critical to diagnose vascular disorders accurately and early, because they can lead to progressive discomfort, long-term disability or even sudden death. Vascular disease can reduce your life expectancy by causing:
- Heart attacks
- Ruptured blood vessels
- Blood clots
- Kidney failure
Blood vessel disease in your legs can lead to amputation if left untreated; in fact, the disease results in about 100,000 amputations each year. If you have vascular disease, your risk for developing heart disease is six times greater.
The staff of the Center for Vascular Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center can determine the nature and extent of your condition by accessing a complete range of diagnostic tests, and then implement the most sophisticated treatment strategies to return you to good health.
What is your vascular system?
Your vascular system consists of vessels throughout your body through which blood travels. Arteries carry blood with fresh oxygen away from your heart to nourish your organs. Veins return blood to your heart to pick up a fresh supply of oxygen.
Normally, blood flow responds to factors such as exercise, digestion and changes in temperature. But blood flow can be impaired by structural defects, such as weakened or thickened arterial walls, or by obstructions, such as blood clots or fatty deposits. Patients with vascular disease are at a high risk for heart disease.
Plaque can build up in your coronary arteries, which restricts blood flow through your heart. When this happens, your heart muscle does not receive enough blood, which can lead to angina (chest pain) or myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Who is at risk for developing vascular disorders?
Vascular disorders can happen to anyone; however, research has identified factors that may increase your risk. These risk factors include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Diabetes mellitus
- High cholesterol and lipid levels
- High blood pressure
- Older than age 50
- Inherited genetic trait
- Elevated blood levels of homocysteine (an amino acid)
- Heart disease
- High-stress lifestyle
Do you think you have symptoms of vascular disease?
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