Our bodies have several intricate systems that must function properly to keep us healthy. The network of arteries, veins and capillaries compose the vascular system, which carries blood to and from the heart. When this network of blood vessels doesn’t operate properly, you develop a vascular disease, which can cause a range of health problems — some can be severe or even fatal.
While every person is at risk of developing a vascular disease, certain lifestyle choices, age and genetics can increase your risk. Other factors include pregnancy, obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Many people have mild or no symptoms, and others may experience symptoms in their extremities. Symptoms include muscle pain or cramping in your arms or legs triggered by activity, a change in skin color of your legs, coldness in your lower leg and sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal.
While there are many vascular diseases, these four are some of the most common.
Peripheral Artery Disease: A common circulatory problem where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. The narrowing results from a thickening of the artery’s lining caused by a plaque buildup.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: A bulge or that occurs in weak regions of the wall of an arterial blood vessel.
Atherosclerosis: Buildup of plaque in the inner lining of your arteries that restricts or blocks blood flow to a specific organ or region of the body.
Carotid Artery Disease: Narrowing or blockage of the two carotid arteries located on the side of your neck. One supplies blood to your brain and the other to the scalp, face and neck.
Contact your doctor if you experience leg pain, leg weakness or numbness, or a weak pulse in your legs and/or feet. You should consider getting screened if you are over the age of 65, over the age of 50 with a history of smoking or diabetes, or under the age of 50 but have diabetes and other artery disease risks, such as obesity or high blood pressure.
Bringing oxygen and nutrients to your organs and tissues, your blood vessels have an important job to do. Simple lifestyle changes like losing weight if you’re overweight, eating healthy foods, being active and not smoking can help prevent vascular disease. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercises and medications are enough to slow the progression or even reverse the symptoms.
Am I a Candidate?
Determine if you are at risk for developing or already have symptoms for venous disease.