Peripheral Vascular Disease
The purpose of blood is to carry oxygen and other nutrients to the tissues of the body and to remove waste products. A network of arteries carry blood throughout the body, propelled by the force of the heart beating, to deliver the blood to the organs and tissues.
These arteries have muscular walls to generate a pressure that allows the oxygen to be delivered. Just like the arteries of the heart itself, the development of high cholesterol, inflammation, and vascular injuries can lead to the development of atheromas (cholesterol-rich plaques) in the walls of the arteries. After years of injury and cholesterol build-up, the arteries can develop significant blockages that decrease blood flow to the distal tissues. Depending on which artery is involved, and how severely blocked the artery is, the damage can be significant. Still, due to predictable patterns in symptoms, the diseases can be treated effectively.
Complications of Peripheral Vascular Disease
The decrease in blood flow to a muscle can lead to a variety of symptoms, including pain when walking, cramps when climbing stairs, cramps when lying flat, restless legs, fatigue, and numbness. Since the blood supply to the legs is predictable, the area with the disease can be anticipated. Using noninvasive testing, like Ultrasound and intensive blood pressure and flow recordings, the arteries can be closely studied. Then, if the symptoms are unable to be managed using medications meant to improve blood flow, an invasive Angiogram can be performed, localizing the exact site of the blockage. In many cases, the blockages can be opened using minimally invasive techniques that avoid the need for surgery. Using balloons and stents, your doctor can deliver a successful and long-lasting result with a reduction in, or even complete relief of, your claudication.
One of the most common complications of Peripheral Artery Disease, Venous Disease, and Diabetes is ulcers of the lower extremities. Due to decreases in the blood flow at some level, the tissues of the foot and leg can lose integrity, leading to skin breakdown, infections, and eventually require surgery. Often, the need for surgery can be reduced, or even eliminated, by using minimally invasive techniques to allow for improved blood flow in the region of the ulcers. In the same way that your doctor can treat cramps and pain, the burden of wounds and ulcers can be significantly reduced with angioplasty and stenting. By working side by side with Cardiologists, Primary Care Physicians, Podiatrists, and Surgeons, your Vascular Specialist can delay or minimize the need for surgery, or even help create custom treatments for your specific type of disease.
What goes in must come out. This simple rule is the basis for venous disease. When the arterial blood supply to the legs is adequate, but the veins are not functioning properly, there can be a build-up of blood and fluid pressure inside the legs. The result is severe swelling, heaviness, and pain in one or both legs. This can be the end result of varicose veins, blood clots, or venous insufficiency (leaky valves in the veins). By using noninvasive testing, your doctor can assess for the cause of your swollen legs, leading to a custom treatment regimen for you that can involve blood thinners, mechanical compression, invasive procedures, and lifestyle modification.
Renal Artery Disease
The organs all work together to achieve a state of health within your body. The heart, kidneys, and brain maintain a balance of blood flow that allows for healthy blood pressure to exist. If the blood pressure is too low, the patient can suffer from dizziness, lightheadedness, and falls. If the blood pressure is too high, the patient can suffer from bleeding, strokes, and heart attacks. The kidneys help to maintain this balance by monitoring the blood volume and flow and release chemicals that regulate this pressure. In patients with newly diagnosed Hypertension or High Blood Pressure that is difficult to control with medications and diet, there can often be problems with the blood flow to one or both kidneys. Your doctor can perform noninvasive tests to look for blockages of the Renal Arteries, and medication options can be adjusted based on the type of disease you have. If medications are not working, or if you have severe Hypertension with an increased risk of adverse events, invasive procedures can be performed to help diagnose and treat Renal Artery Stenosis more aggressively.
Carotid Artery Disease
The blood flow to the brain is one of the most critical things your body tries to maintain. With 4 arteries supplying all of the blood to your brain, there is a significant chance of cholesterol plaques building up in one (or more) of the arteries, leading to symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, vertigo, strokes, or mini-strokes. Simple tests can be performed in your doctor’s office to assess for the blood flow to the brain. After discovering Carotid Artery Disease, a cholesterol-lowering medication, combined with improvements in lifestyle, can be used to decrease the chances of having any further events due to lack of blood flow. If the disease progresses, surgery can be performed to help prevent strokes, or to improve your quality of life.