What is vascular disease?

Vascular diseases include all the diseases that have an effect on the structure or function of the blood vessels, including the veins and arteries. Some of the most common vascular diseases include:

  • Atherosclerosis (so-called hardening of the arteries), including coronary and carotid artery diseases

  • Varicose veins

  • Spider veins

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

  • Aneurysm, a weak spot or bulging area of a vessel

  • Renal (kidney) artery disease

  • Clotting disorders

  • Lymphedema

What are the signs and symptoms of vascular disease?

Some types of vascular diseases may cause no symptoms until a serious event like a heart attack or stroke occurs; others like peripheral artery disease may cause symptoms like numbness or a feeling of cold in the areas served by the affected blood vessels. Some diseases may cause discomfort that can range from mild to significant. Because symptoms can be difficult to discern, having regular vascular testing is the best way to spot diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.

Is there anything I can do to reduce my risks for vascular diseases?

Some diseases are inherited or genetic, but in other cases, the risk of developing vascular disease may be reduced with lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, eating a diet low in saturated fats and high in fiber, losing weight and getting adequate exercise. Being screened for vascular diseases is also an important part of reducing your risks for serious events.

How is vascular disease treated?

That depends on the underlying cause. Some types of disease may be treated with medications like blood pressure medicines; others require surgery to correct, including minimally-invasive options using lasers, injections or very small incisions to treat vessel disease. In some cases, more advanced surgical techniques may be required to remove and replace an affected vessel with a blood vessel graft.