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The Connection between Vascular Disease and Heart

Dr. Sunil Dwivedi

Dr. Sunil Dwivedi

  Vasanth nagar, Bengaluru     May 31, 2019

   6 min     

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What is Vascular Disease?

Vascular disease is a condition that affects the veins and arteries of the circulatory system. Vascular disease affects the blood flow of the humans by weakening or blocking blood vessels, or by destroying the valves. The most common vascular diseases include Coronary Artery Disease (heart attack), Cerebrovascular Disease (stroke), Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA), Pulmonary Embolism (blood clots), Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), Carotid Artery Disease (CAD), Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), and Varicose Veins.

Types of Vascular Diseases

There are different types of vascular diseases, based on how it affects the blood vessels. They are as follows:

Aneurysm

An aneurysm refers to a bulge in the walls of your blood vessel, mainly observed in the aorta, which is the primary blood vessel leaving the heart. The aortic aneurysm may be thoracic, that which occurs in the chest, or abdominal, that which occurs near your belly—aneurysms, when small in size, cause nor major threats. Large aneurysms may rupture and cause haemorrhages. 

Small aneurysms may pose the following risk to the body.

  • Leads to plaque deposits at the site of the aneurysm

  • Aneurysms are sites where clots could form, and if it moves to other parts of the body, it could cause loss of blood flow, results of which would be fatal.

  • Over tie, the aneurysms may increase in size and press on organs nearby causing the patient a lot of pain.

  • The wall of the blood vessel at the site of the aneurysm is thinned out and stretched, which may cause it to burst like the bubble. Picture blowing a balloon and pushing it to its limits that it bursts. Aortic aneurysms that rupture can be fatal.

Atherosclerosis and Peripheral Artery Disease

There are arteries that provide blood to the heart muscles, i.e. coronary arteries, or those that supply blood to the other organs, i.e. peripheral arteries. These vessels could have a plaque buildup due to fat or cholesterol deposits or deposits for other substances. A person with a plaque buildup is said to have atherosclerosis. This is a progressive, systemic, chronic vascular disease process that triggers the coronary arteries, carotid arteries, and the peripheral arteries. It overgrows and decreases the flow of the blood or completely blocks the blood flow.

Slowed blood flow could cause the blood to stick to the walls of the blood vessels and form clots, which when travel to other parts of the body, could prove to be fatal. In some cases, the plaques could rupture the blood vessels altogether, which is dangerous.

The presence of atherosclerosis in the arteries leads to heart attack and other heart-related diseases. Therefore, it is essential to understand the factors that trigger the progression of vascular disease and also know how to control it.

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis

The symptoms of atherosclerosis in different arteries are:

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Angina (chest pain)

  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat)

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries:

  • Confusion

  • Weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Breathing problems

  • Numbness or paralysis in the face, legs, or arms

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis in the peripheral arteries:

  • Numbness or paralysis in the face, legs, or arms

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis in the renal arteries – these arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the kidneys.

  • Itchiness

  • Loss of appetite

  • Changes in urination

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue

Treatments of Atherosclerosis:

Treatment for atherosclerosis includes coronary angioplasty and coronary artery bypass graft surgery. However, the procedure may depend upon the patient’s age, medical history, overall health, the location of the blockage, and other factors.

  • Coronary Angioplasty: It is known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). This procedure is performed to open the blocked coronary arteries that are affected by CAD. Then, it helps to restore the blood flow to the heart tissue without any open-heart surgery.

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG): It is a procedure which involves a bypass of the blocked portions of the coronary artery with another piece of the blood vessel.

  • Moreover, you may need some modifications in your lifestyle to control the risk factors, such as proper nutritious food, regular exercise, and smoking cessation.

Raynaud's phenomenon (Raynaud's disease or Raynaud's syndrome)

This is a condition that occurs when your body is subjected to extreme cold or another form of excitement. The small blood vessels on your toes and fingers may cramp due to twitching from the cold, leading to a complete loss of blood flow temporarily. In such situations, you can notice your skin turning white or bluish, in addition to a feeling of numbness. 

These symptoms could also allude to other disorders such as scleroderma, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Vascular Disease Causes and Risk Factors

There are different reasons why one may contract vascular diseases. Vascular diseases have a major impact on the heart muscles, as well as other organs, as they all relate to blood flow and organs function with adequate blood flow.

Some of the cause of vascular diseases include

  • Atherosclerosis, which is basically a buildup of plaque in the arteries

  • Blood clots also referred to as thrombus, or mass of debris, referred to as embolus, could cause blockage in the blood vessels

  • Inflammation of the blood vessels; a condition called vasculitis

  • Should there be trauma or injury

A person's chances of acquiring vascular diseases increases if they have the following risk factors.

  • Diabetes

  • Previous history of vascular disease, stroke or heart attack in the family

  • Men are at higher risk than women.

  • Hypertension, i.e. high blood pressure

  • Consuming foods with high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides

  • Having little to no physical activity

  • Obesity or being overweight

  • Dealing with extreme stress

  • Smoking

Treatment of Vascular Disease

Vascular diseases can be treated in various ways, based on the disease you have. Should the case be severe, the doctor performs surgery. This is in case of an aneurysm, where it is clipped, or ruptures caused by plaques are repaired. Doctors may also perform angioplasty, which is a procedure that involves widening the blood vessel and clearing the plaque.

You will also be prescribed medication to manage the following conditions hence keeping the vascular disease in check.

  • Hypertension or blood pressure

  • Cholesterol, which will be treated with statin or Atorvastatin, Fluvastatin, Lovastatin, or Pitavastatin 

  • Blood clots which can be prevented by giving blood thinners

Vascular Disease Prevention

You may not have vascular diseases, yet the chances of getting those could be high based on certain lifestyle changes. So to prevent the diseases from occurring by eating a good diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoke. You should also work on managing your stress levels.

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Tags:  atherosclerosis,what is vascular disease?,blood flow,Symptoms of Atherosclerosis,Treatments of Atherosclerosis,vascular diseases, cardiovascular diseases, aneurysms, atherosclerosis

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