Vascular Disease may not be as well known as its cousin, heart disease, but they are closely related. When the network of blood vessels which is the vascular system is blocked, blood flow to the heart can be affected. This can cause blood clots, hardening of the arteries, stroke, or heart disease.

There are certain signs that indicate you may have vascular disease, including chest pain or lack of circulation in the legs. But many people have vascular disease and don’t realize it. About one in five Americans over the age of 65 have peripheral artery disease (which affects arteries in the legs) but only one in three of those people have symptoms. As many as nine out of ten women with peripheral artery disease have no symptoms and don’t realize they are at risk.

To determine whether you have this condition, you need to be examined by Dr. Diego or his staff. They may ask about your medical history and your family history– i.e., has anyone in your family had a stroke or been diagnosed with heart disease? They may ask about your lifestyle: Do you smoke; how much exercise do you get? how is your diet? Dr. Diego may also ask about possible symptoms, including pain while walking or during exercise.

There are various medical tests and tools to help diagnose vascular disease. One compares blood pressure in the ankle with blood pressure in the arm. This is designed to show blood flow in the legs.

Doppler Ultrasound is another test. This painless test uses a computer to convert sound waves to a picture of the blood flow. Blood tests will help diagnose conditions such as diabetes or lipid disorders. Magnetic resonance angiography uses magnetic and radio waves to depict blood flow.

If Dr. Diego is concerned about blood flow to your heart, he may ask for an electrocardiogram. This test (abbreviated EKG or ECG) records the heart’s electrical activity and it can help diagnose heart attacks in progress– or a past event. It shows if there is poor flow of blood to the heart muscle. It is especially helpful to have a history of EKG tests, so the doctor can compare your condition at present to one from the past. If you are diagnosed with vascular disease, the first task is to address symptoms. Dr. Diego may advise you to make some changes to your diet or your exercise routine. You should also quit smoking, if you smoke. Other treatments include medication and surgery.

Vascular disease may lead to the following conditions, beside coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease:

  • Aneurysm (Bulging Blood Vessel)
  • Renal artery disease (thickening walls of arteries in the kidneys)
  • Raynaud’s disease (spasms of the small arteries of the fingers)
  • Buerger’s disease (blocked arteries in the arms and legs)
  • Peripheral venous disease (damage to valves in the veins)
  • Varicose veins (bulging, swollen veins in the legs)
  • Venous blood clots (clots in the veins)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot that breaks loose and travels to the lungs)
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (pooling of blood and swelling in the legs)
  • Clotting disorders