Most Americans are familiar with heart disease and with the consequences of blockages in the vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. But few people realize that blockages caused by a buildup of plaque and cholesterol affect more than coronary arteries. Arteries throughout the body carry oxygen rich blood away from the heart, so blockages can occur in all arteries with serious effects. Following are brief descriptions of some of the vascular conditions our expert physicians treat regularly, as well as a link to additional information. Please understand that every patient's situation is different and our physicians treat each individual patient not just the condition, so there may be variations in your particular treatment plan compared to what you read. This information can be very helpful in providing a high level description of these conditions and how they are generally diagnosed and treated. Our physicians and nurses are here to answer your questions, so never be afraid to ask if you don't understand something.
The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and it carries oxygen-rich blood pumped out of, or away from, your heart. Your aorta runs through your chest, where it is called the thoracic aorta. When it reaches your abdomen, it is called the abdominal aorta. When a weak area of the abdominal aorta expands or bulges, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
AORTOILLIAC OCCLUSIVE DISEASE
Aortoiliac occlusive disease occurs when the iliac arteries become narrowed or blocked. The aorta, your body's main artery, splits into branches, called iliac arteries, at about the level of your belly button and down through the pelvis to the legs, where they divide into many smaller arteries that run down to the toes. Aortoiliac disease is a peripheral arterial disease.
CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE
Carotid artery disease occurs when the major arteries in your neck become narrowed or blocked. These arteries, called the carotid arteries, supply your brain with blood. Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. Carotid artery disease is a serious health problem because it can cause a stroke.
Claudication is pain, tired or weak feeling that occurs in your legs, usually during activity such as walking. Your arteries carry blood rich with oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. When the arteries to your legs become narrowed or blocked, your leg muscles may not receive enough of the blood and oxygen they need to support physical activity.
DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS
Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body, whereas your veins are the blood vessels that return oxygen-poor blood back to your heart. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in one of the deep veins. Usually, DVT occurs in your pelvis, thigh, or calf. DVT can be dangerous because it can cause a complication known as pulmonary embolism.
Diabetic vascular disease refers to the development of blockages in the arteries, sometimes called “hardening of the arteries”, because of diabetes. Diabetes means that too much glucose (blood sugar) is in your bloodstream because of your body's inability to either produce insulin or to use insulin efficiently. You may also develop vascular diseases that have been linked to diabetes such as retinopathy, coronary artery disease or neuropathy.
Lymphedema occurs when a clear fluid known as lymphatic fluid builds up in the soft tissues of your body, usually in an arm or leg. The lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels and lymph nodes that run through your body. If they become damaged or are missing, the lymph fluid cannot move freely through the system, causing swelling in the affected arms or legs.
The mesenteric arteries are the arteries that supply blood to your large and small intestines. Mesenteric ischemia usually occurs when one or more of your mesenteric arteries narrows or becomes blocked. When this blockage occurs, you can experience severe abdominal pain. Over time, often quickly, the blockage may worsen and cause tissues in your intestine to die because they lack enough blood flow.
When a weak area of a blood vessel expands or bulges significantly, it’s called an aneurysm. Most aneurysms occur in the aorta, your body's largest artery. Peripheral aneurysms affect the arteries other than the aorta. Most peripheral aneurysms occur in the popliteal artery, which runs down the back of your lower thigh and knee. Peripheral aneurysms can also compress a nearby nerve or vein and cause pain, numbness, or swelling.
PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE
When the arteries in your legs become blocked, your legs do not receive enough blood or oxygen, and you may have a condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD), sometimes called leg artery disease. PAD can cause discomfort or pain when you walk. The pain can occur in your hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, shins, or upper feet.
A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in a vein, travels through your bloodstream, and lodges in your lungs. A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency because a large embolism, or sometimes many repeated smaller ones, can be fatal in a short time. If a blood clot forms in a vein it can move with the blood flow back to your lungs and lodge there.
Renovascular conditions affect the blood vessels of your kidneys, called the renal arteries and veins. When the blood flow is normal through your kidneys, your kidneys rid your body of wastes. When your kidney blood vessels narrow or have a clot, your kidney is less able to do its work. Your physician may diagnose you with renal artery stenosis or renal vein thrombosis.
THORACIC AORTIC ANEURYSM
The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and it carries blood away from your heart to all the parts of your body. When a weak area of your thoracic aorta expands or bulges, it is called a thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA). Thoracic aortic aneurysms are serious health risks because they can burst or rupture, rapidly leading to shock or death.
THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME
Your thoracic outlet is a small space just behind and below your collarbone. The blood vessels and nerves that serve your arm are located in this space. Thoracic outlet syndrome is the presence of hand and arm symptoms due to pressure against the nerves or blood vessels in this area. There are three types of TOS. The type depends on which structure is compressed -- nerve, vein, or artery.
When your leg veins cannot pump enough blood back to your heart, you have chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). CVI is also sometimes called chronic venous disease, or CVD. You have three kinds of veins: superficial veins, which lie close to the skin, deep veins, which lie in groups of muscles, and perforating veins, which connect the superficial to the deep veins.