Get the Facts About Vascular Disease
Vascular disease is a blood circulation disorder that causes the blood vessels outside of your heart and brain to narrow, block or spasm. Disorders in the vascular system — a large network of blood vessels throughout the body — can cause a range of health issues that can be severe or even fatal.
Vascular disease can cause pain and fatigue, often in your legs, and especially during exercise. Many people with vascular disease experience narrowing or blockage from atherosclerosis — fatty deposits that can clog arteries. This can cause a heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest or stroke.
Common vascular diseases include:
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
- AAA is the third-leading cause of sudden death in men over age 60 in the United States. It happens when the lining of the largest blood vessel in the body, the aorta, enlarges within the abdomen. If the aneurysm bursts, it can be deadly.
- Tobacco users are eight times more likely to be affected than nonusers
- Because AAA has no warning signs, a preventive vascular screening is the best way to detect a potentially life-threatening aneurysm early enough for a physician to take corrective action.
Carotid artery disease
- Carotid artery disease occurs in up to 3 percent of individuals over age 65. It happens when plaque builds up in your carotid arteries — the main arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.
- When plaque buildup becomes very severe, it can cause a stroke. In fact, carotid stenosis is responsible for up to one-third of all strokes.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- PAD affects 8.5 million people. It occurs when the hardening of the arteries causes a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to all tissues of the body.
- If you have PAD, blood flow to the arms, legs, kidneys and other vital organs can be limited, causing pain or fatigue when walking or exercising.
- People with PAD are three times more likely to die of heart attack or stroke.
If you have carotid artery disease or peripheral artery disease, getting regular treatment with a cardiovascular provider can help lower your risk of stroke.