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Vascular and Arterial Disease

Vascular or arterial disease can cause pain and discomfort in your legs and affect how your organs function. These conditions can slow you down and cause more serious health issues, but we have treatment options ranging from medication to surgery.

Conditions of the veins and arteries

Vascular and arterial diseases typically involve narrow or blocked blood vessels in the veins or arteries. We see patients with a range of vascular and arterial conditions, including:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Venous reflux disease

The interventional advantage

When possible, we use interventional cardiologist to help in your treatment. They are able to use small, flexible tubes, called catheters, and stents to repair veins and arteries. These minimally invasive treatments can reduce the impact of surgery and shorten your recovery time.

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease is a disorder that occurs when your coronary arteries are diseased or damaged. Coronary arteries supply the heart with blood and oxygen. When plaque deposits narrow your coronary arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis, the amount of blood and oxygen supplied to the heart is restricted. Heart attacks can occur when an artery is completely blocked due to plaque.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease

The beginning stages of coronary artery disease do not typically cause noticeable symptoms. But as plaque continues to build in the arteries, symptoms may become noticeable, especially when the heart is working hard to supply the heart with oxygen and blood, such as during exercise.

The most common symptoms of coronary artery disease are:

  • Angina, or chest pain, which typically feels like pressure or tightness in the chest and may be triggered by physical or emotional stress
  • Shortness of breath due to lack of an oxygen-rich blood supply

How is coronary artery disease diagnosed?

Coronary artery disease is identified using some of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Stress testing
  • Angiography

Learn more about our screenings and diagnostic tests.

How is coronary artery disease treated?

Once you are diagnosed with coronary artery disease, we partner with you to develop an individual treatment plan. Plans may include lifestyle changes, medications and/or treatment in our cardiac catheterization lab.

Lifestyle changes your doctor may recommend include:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Reduce stress

The doctor may recommend one of the following medications, or a combination:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • Anticoagulants or blood thinners such as aspirin
  • Beta blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Statins
  • Thrombolytic therapy designed to dissolve blood clots

We offer these treatments in our cardiac catheterization lab:

  • Angioplasty – A tiny balloon is inflated inside the blocked artery so blood can flow properly.
  • Peripheral bypass surgery – A grafting procedure using a portion of a blood vessel from another part of the body to bypass the blocked or narrowed portion of artery.
  • Vascular stenting – A tiny coil that is left inside the artery to help expand it so blood can flow properly.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a disorder of the circulatory system in the limbs. It occurs when the arteries narrow due to plaque deposits, also known as hardening of the arteries. These deposits reduce the flow of blood and oxygen through the body.

People who suffer from PAD often have problems with their legs. The leg muscles have to work harder to support the body with less oxygen and blood flow.

Symptoms of peripheral artery disease

The severity of symptoms ranges from person to person. Early onset of PAD may not cause any symptoms. However, those with more severe cases complain of pain in the lower extremities, thighs, legs and feet. Generally, this pain begins during exercise and goes away within a few minutes of rest. As the disorder advances, this pain may be present during inactivity.

The most common PAD symptoms include:

  • Coldness in the leg
  • Cramps in the hip, thigh, calf or foot
  • Color change in the skin on the leg
  • Impotence
  • Sores on the leg or foot that do not heal
  • Weak pulse in the leg or foot
  • Weakness or numbness in the leg

How is peripheral artery disease diagnosed?

Peripheral artery disease is identified using some of these diagnostic tests:

  • Peripheral angiography
  • Ultrasound
  • CT angiography
  • Ankle brachial index/pulse volume recordings and segmental pressures

Learn more about our screenings and diagnostic tests.

How is peripheral artery disease treated?

Treatments for peripheral artery disease focus on managing symptoms and slowing down or stopping the progression of the disorder. If you smoke, the single most important thing you can do is to quit.

Your doctor may recommend these lifestyle changes:

  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise and modify your diet to lose weight
  • Alternate exercise and rest – over time, circulation may improve as new blood vessels form
  • Take care of your feet, especially if you have diabetes – wear shoes that fit properly and treat all cuts and scrapes right away to avoid infection

We also may recommend medications to control or prevent:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • High cholesterol
  • Blood clots – common medications are aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix)

Your doctor also may recommend medications to relieve PAD symptoms, such as cilostazol (Pletal), which increases blood flow to the limbs by enlarging the artery.

We provide these treatments at our cardiac catheterization lab:

  • Angioplasty - A tiny balloon is inflated inside the blocked artery so blood can flow properly.
  • Vascular stenting – A tiny coil is left inside the artery and helps expand it so blood can flow properly.

Venous reflux disease

Venous reflux disease is a disease of the leg vein valves that causes them to close improperly, elevating pressure.

Symptoms of venous reflux disease

Common symptoms of venous reflux disease include:

  • Leg heaviness or fatigue
  • Pain in the legs
  • Ulcers
  • Varicose veins
  • Skin coloration changes
  • Swollen legs

Risk factors that can contribute to venous reflux disease include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Frequent heavy lifting
  • Gender
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Standing for prolonged periods of time

How is venous reflux disease diagnosed?

The physician does a complete medical history and examination of your legs. Additionally, a test called a vascular or duplex ultrasound may be used to examine the blood circulation in your legs.

How is venous reflux disease treated?

The Venefit procedure is performed in an outpatient setting. A catheter will be placed in the diseased vein through a small opening in the skin. The tiny catheter powered by radiofrequency energy delivers heat to the vein wall. As the thermal energy is delivered, the vein wall shrinks and the vein is sealed closed.

Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will re-route itself to other healthy veins. Following the procedure, a simple bandage is placed over the insertion site. Additional compression may be provided to aid healing.

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