The body’s vascular and vein system is an intricate network you likely take for granted. When you have issues, ignoring them could be deadly.
At Williamston Heart & Vascular Center vascular specialists diagnose and treat the symptoms and underlying causes of vascular diseases every day. In many cases, lifestyle changes or medication can keep vascular diseases from worsening. Sometimes, however, surgical intervention is necessary.
Regardless of the vascular condition suffered, early diagnosis and treatment prevent further complications. Wondering about the most common threats to your vascular and vein system? Here are a few common conditions our vascular surgeons treat:
High Blood Pressure
Talk is everywhere about high blood pressure. It’s on the news, it’s in commercials and it’s in your doctor’s office at every visit. But don’t let your familiarity with high blood pressure put you at ease because high blood pressure is nothing to take lightly.
Blood pressure is the degree to which your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. If your blood pressure remains too high for too long (180/110 or higher), your risk increases for conditions such as heart attack, blindness, kidney failure, stroke and other dangerous conditions. Since high blood pressure typically causes no symptoms, having your blood pressure measured regularly is essential.
Stroke, carotid artery disease, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)
Possibly the most feared vascular disease, stroke strikes in an instant, possibly leaving the person paralyzed or worse. Most strokes occur when a blood vessel that carries blood to the brain becomes too clogged to pass blood through. About 15% are due to a blood vessel in the brain bursting. In either case, urgent medical care is necessary for the best outcome.
Telltale signs of a stroke include sudden, unexplainable weakness in one arm, face drooping on one side, and slurred speech. If you recognize any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Also known as PAD, peripheral artery disease occurs when the arteries that transport blood to the body’s extremities narrow. PAD most often affects the legs, but it can occur in the arteries to the arms, head, or stomach as well.
When it affects the legs, common symptoms include cramping, tiredness, and pain when at rest. Treatment is typically effective and long-lasting as long as it’s administered promptly.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (or DVT) is a blood clot that occurs deep in the legs in veins that often run parallel with arteries. Obesity, smoking, and pregnancy will increase your risk and, DVT is also a concern after surgery.
While it can affect any deep vein, DVT is most common in the lower leg or thigh. Initial symptoms include pain or tenderness, warmth and redness, and swelling near the affected vein. Noninvasive care often helps overcome DVT, but if not treated appropriately, the clot causing DVT can break free and affect the lungs.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when your veins are unable to send blood back to your heart. Valves in your veins make it possible for your blood to pump back toward your heart, but if those valves are damaged, blood pools in your veins and puts pressure on the vein walls.
Chronic venous insufficiency is most common in the legs, according to the Society of Vascular Surgeons (SVS), but it can occur in the arms as well. If you have chronic venous insufficiency in your legs, standing will often cause blood to stay in your veins. Common symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include pain, heaviness, or swelling in the affected limb. You may also develop varicose veins on the surface of your legs.
Chronic venous insufficiency is common, especially in women and people who are age 45 or older, and often manageable, according to the SVS. If you have a history of deep vein thrombosis, you may be more at risk of developing chronic venous insufficiency.
Similar to chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins occur when blood pools in your veins instead of flowing to your heart. This causes your veins to become swollen and twisted underneath the skin. Symptoms can include pain or swelling that worsens throughout the day, but you may not experience any symptoms.
Varicose veins are widespread, especially for women and people who are obese, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Often, lifestyle changes can help treat or manage them, but medical treatment can be used, as well.
- Abdominal aneurysm
- Diabetic problems
- Pulmonary embolism
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm
Treatment for Venous Conditions
- Lifestyle changes — A heart-healthy diet, monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and regular exercise can help manage and prevent venous conditions. If you have chronic venous insufficiency or varicose veins, your provider may recommend wearing compression stockings or elevating your feet.
- Medications and non-surgical treatment — Blood thinners are often prescribed to treat DVT. Ablation therapy can be used to treat varicose veins. Chronic venous insufficiency often does not require medical treatment, but in rare cases, surgery may be necessary.
- Surgical Procedures for Vascular and Venous Conditions