Are you experiencing leg pain? How about recurrent muscle spasms? Maybe you’re noticing small sores on your legs. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms (or similar phenomena), you may need to be worried about vascular disease.
Vascular diseases affect the blood vessels in your body. Because blood is so important to our body’s health, problems with our blood vessels can lead to a myriad of symptoms that may cause discomfort, pain, and even loss of limbs.
The key to battling vascular disease is catching it early. If the condition goes untreated for a long period of time, you could face irreversible damage.
What Is Vascular Disease?
Vascular disease is any condition that affects the body’s blood vessels. This may include the arteries, veins, lymphatic system, and more.
Vascular diseases are harmful because they can prevent blood from flowing to other areas of your body. For example, your blood flow to your kidneys may be compromised. In turn, you could experience kidney problems like kidney failure.
These conditions may occur because of multiple reasons. You may have a blood clot or inflammation. You may have a buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis) or another blockage.
No matter the cause, vascular disease is dangerous.
Unfortunately, vascular diseases are very common, especially for individuals who have existing heart problems like cardiovascular disease. Different kinds of vascular disease include peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis, chronic venous insufficiency, and more.
While there are many kinds of problems that can affect the blood vessels, these conditions have similar signs and symptoms.
What Are the Risk Factors Associated With Vascular Disease?
The number one risk factor for developing a vascular disease is age. You’re more likely to develop one of these conditions as you get older and your vessels become weaker.
With this, there are several other kinds of risk factors for vascular diseases:
- A family history of vascular disease
- A family history of cardiovascular disease
- A family history of any cardiac problem
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels)
- Diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes
- An active or past smoking history
- An active pregnancy
- Severe illness or injury
- Long periods of sitting or standing for too long
- Excess weight
- A history of blood clotting disorders
If you have any of these risk factors, you may need to get routine testing for vascular disease. You’re more likely to develop it than others, so you should also work to minimize your risk if possible.
Some risk factors aren’t fixable (such as age and family history). However, you could modify other risk factors such as your weight, activity, and smoking habits.
Even small changes can make a big difference in your cardiovascular health.
What Are the Symptoms of Vascular Disease?
The symptoms of different vascular diseases are similar, but they aren’t exactly alike.
The symptoms will vary depending on the area of the body that’s being affected by the disease process. They may also vary depending on the disease process itself.
Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease occurs when plaque develops inside of the arteries that carry blood to the heart. Patients with coronary artery disease may experience the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Tightness, pressure, or burning in the chest
- Upper body discomfort, especially in the jaw, shoulders, abdomen, neck, and back
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue that’s exacerbated by physical activity
- Nausea and vomiting
Coronary artery disease is deadly. So, if you experience any of these symptoms, you should get medical attention as quickly as possible.
Some cases of coronary artery disease occur from untreated cardiovascular disease. If you have this condition, you need to seek cardiovascular disease treatment and management to prevent coronary artery disease.
Symptoms of Cerebrovascular Disease
Cerebrovascular disease happens when there is a blood clot that travels to the brain. This can lead to a transient ischemic attack or a stroke.
Usually, there aren’t any symptoms up until the stroke occurs. After that, you may notice common stroke symptoms like weakness on one side of the body.
Symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease occurs when the blood flow to your limbs is blocked or restricted. This increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other complications.
Many people with this condition may not have symptoms, but those who do may show the following symptoms:
- Pain in the thigh, calf, or buttocks while active
- Pale skin
- Lack of hair growth
- Lack of nail growth
- Sores that heal slowly or not at all
- Cold temperature
- Weak pulses
- Numbness, weakness, or heaviness
- Restricted mobility
- Varicose veins
- Dry skin
- Burning or aching pain at rest
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may need to get an ultrasound of the affected limb to see if you have a blood clot. Without diagnosis and treatment, you could suffer a stroke, heart attack, or blood clot in the lung.
When in doubt, get medical attention.
Symptoms of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
An aneurysm is a bulging area in the wall of the blood vessel. This is a weakened area of the blood vessel that may burst at any moment.
Since the aorta is your largest and most important blood vessel, an aorta burst could be deadly.
While aneurysms don’t cause symptoms initially, they can cause problems if they burst. Here are the symptoms of a burst aneurysm:
- Pain in the jaw, neck, or back
- Pain in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble swallowing
If you experience these symptoms suddenly, you should get emergency medical attention. The sooner you get help, the higher your likelihood of surviving.
Get an Appointment Today
Vascular disease isn’t something to ignore. If you have risk factors or symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about what you can do. Your arteries and veins are vital to your health and wellbeing, so you shouldn’t ignore any problems that you may be experiencing.
Go ahead and make an appointment with our experts at Greenwich Medical Associates about your cardiovascular health. Dr. Glenn Gandelman and Dr. Marcus Mayus are board-certified physicians and their practice has been serving the greater New York/Connecticut area for over 30 years. Let them and their team take the stress out of your cardiology needs.