Veins and arteries
|Classification and external resources|
Vascular disease is a class of diseases of the blood vessels – the arteries and veins of the circulatory system of the body. It is a subgroup of cardiovascular disease. Disorders in this vast network of blood vessels, can cause a range of health problems which can be severe or prove fatal.
Associated medical conditions
- Erythromelalgia - a rare peripheral vascular disease where syndromes includes burning pain, increased temperature, erythema and swelling, of mainly the hands and feet are affected.
- Peripheral artery disease – happens when atheromatous plaques build up in the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs, plaque causes the arteries to narrow or become blocked.
- Renal artery stenosis - is the narrowing of renal arteries that carry blood to the kidneys from the aorta.
- Buerger's disease – is due to small blood vessels that inflame and swell, vessels then narrow or are blocked by blood clots.
- Raynaud's disease – a rare peripheral vascular disorder of constriction of the peripheral blood vessels, in the fingers and toes when the person is cold.
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation – a widespread activation of clotting in the smaller blood vessels.
- Cerebrovascular disease–a group of vascular diseases that affect brain function.
Vascular disease is a pathological state of large and medium muscular arteries and is triggered by endothelial cell dysfunction. Because of factors like pathogens, oxidized LDL particles and other inflammatory stimuli endothelial cells become active. The process causes thickening of the vessel wall, forming a plaque that consists of proliferating smooth muscle cells, macrophages and lymphocytes. The plaque results in a restricted blood flow which will decrease the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach certain organs, the plaque might rupture causing the formation of clots.
It can be difficult to make a Vascular disease diagnosis since there are a variety of symptoms that a person can have, also family history and a physical examination are important. The physical exam may be different depending on the type of vascular disease. In the case of a peripheral vascular disease the physical exam consists in checking the blood flow in the legs.
Treatment varies with the type of vascular disease; in the case of renal artery disease, information from a meta-analysis indicated that balloon angioplasty results in improvement of diastolic blood pressure and a reduction in antihypertensive drug requirements. In the case of peripheral artery disease, preventing complications is important; without treatment, sores or gangrene (tissue death) may occur. Among the treatments are:
- Quitting smoking
- Lowering cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood glucose
- Physical activity
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