Peripheral vascular diseases have one thing in common: They can take years to cause symptoms, and by the time you’re aware there’s a problem, you have advanced disease. The experienced team at Cardiology Associates of Frederick offers risk assessments, screenings to diagnose problems, and advanced treatment that promotes your long-term health and wellness. To learn more about your risk for peripheral vascular disease, call the office in Frederick, Maryland, or request an appointment online today.
Peripheral vascular disease refers to any problem that affects the arteries and veins outside your heart. The most common include:
Though atherosclerosis is a type of peripheral vascular disease, it’s also the cause of several other vascular conditions.
Atherosclerosis develops when cholesterol plaque accumulates in the artery wall. If you don’t get treatment, the fatty plaque gets larger, hardens, and restricts blood flow through the artery.
Atherosclerosis causes peripheral artery disease, carotid artery disease, and renal stenosis. It also contributes to aortic aneurysms.
Two peripheral vascular diseases that aren’t associated with atherosclerosis are venous insufficiency and deep vein thrombosis.
Venous insufficiency develops when valves in your leg veins weaken and stop working properly. As a result, blood flows down the leg and accumulates in the vein.
Venous insufficiency causes varicose veins and raises blood pressure in the vein. High venous pressure leads to problems like skin rashes, thick and discolored skin, and nonhealing ulcers.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to a blood clot in a leg vein. Clots develop when your blood flow slows down. In the case of DVT, that’s usually due to an injury or inflammation.
The symptoms you experience depend on the vascular disease. The hallmark symptom of peripheral artery disease is leg pain that flares up when you walk and then eases if you rest. Like venous insufficiency, this condition also causes skin problems and nonhealing ulcers in your lower leg.
Varicose veins are known for causing leg pain, swelling, restless legs, and muscle cramps. Deep vein thrombosis primarily causes leg pain together with skin redness and swelling. Aneurysms seldom cause symptoms until they get quite large, and then you may experience pain.
Your treatment depends on the type of peripheral vascular disease and whether it has reached an advanced stage. However, treatment for most vascular conditions includes a combination of lifestyle changes and prescription medications.
If you have a venous or arterial ulcer, you need intensive wound care. These ulcers don’t heal on their own. Instead, they keep enlarging and can lead to dangerous infections, and in severe cases, gangrene.
When peripheral vascular disease reaches an advanced stage, your provider recommends a minimally invasive endovascular treatment to correct the problem. You might need balloon angioplasty to clear away atherosclerotic plaque, or endovenous ablation to eliminate venous insufficiency, to give you two examples.
If you develop symptoms of peripheral vascular disease, call Cardiology Associates of Frederick or book an appointment online today.