Vascular Medicine in Anderson, SC
AnMed Health vascular specialists are experts at finding, diagnosing, and treating issues within the vascular system and getting you back to living a healthy life.
What is vascular disease?
As your heart beats, it pumps blood through a system of blood vessels, called the circulatory system. Blood vessels carry blood to every part of the body; arteries carry blood away from the heart and veins return blood back to the heart. Vascular disease includes any condition that affects your circulatory system. Some of the most common vascular diseases include:
Peripheral artery disease: Like the blood vessels in your heart, plague can also build up inside your peripheral arteries, or those that run through your arms and legs. Over time, plaque build-up narrows the artery and eventually the narrowed artery can cause inadequate blood flow to the body's tissue. A peripheral arterial disease (PAD) screening can help assess your stroke risk and the presence of PAD.
The screening includes:
- a comprehensive personal and family health history risk assessment
- a blood pressure reading
- an aortic ultrasound (if pre-screening questions determine a need for it), which provides 2-D imaging of the aorta in real time
- an ankle brachial index (ABI) to evaluate for PAD in lower extremities
Aneurysm: An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. Aneurysms can form in any blood vessel, but they occur most often in the aorta, which is the main blood vessel leaving the heart.
Renal artery disease: Renal artery disease is most commonly caused by plaque build-up in the renal arteries.
Varicose veins: Varicose veins are bulging, swollen, purple, ropy veins caused by damaged valves within the veins. Varicose veins are more common in women than men, and they often run in families. They can also be caused by pregnancy, being severely overweight or standing for long periods of time.
Blood clots in the veins are usually caused by:
- Long bedrest and/or immobility
- Damage to veins from injury or infection
- Damage to the valves in the vein, causing pooling near the valve flaps
- Pregnancy and hormones (such as estrogen or birth control pills)
- Genetic disorders
- Conditions causing slowed blood flow or thicker blood, such as inflammatory bowel disease, congestive heart failure (CHF) or certain tumors
Several kinds of blood clots can occur in your veins. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot occurring in a deep vein. Pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that breaks loose from a vein and travels to the lungs.
Vascular Disease Symptoms
Symptoms of vascular disease vary, depending on which areas of the body experience lack of blood flow. In general, symptoms of vascular disease include:
Pain, numbness, tingling, and/or a dull ache in affected areas
Muscle cramps in the legs or buttocks after walking, jogging, or performing moderate to rigorous exercise
Abnormal redness or paleness to the fingertips, fingers, lips, toes, and feet
Wounds that are slow to heal due to inadequate blood flow, especially wounds on the hands and lower extremities
Unexplained swelling of the face, hands, feet, and legs
Having cold hands and feet in warm conditions
Erectile dysfunction (especially if ED affects men under 50 years old)
Symptoms of vascular damage may be subtle at first and may go unnoticed. As blood vessels continue to narrow and restrict blood flow, symptoms will worsen. Some people, however, will not have any signs of vascular disease before they have a stroke or heart attack. If you suspect something is wrong with your circulatory system, schedule an appointment with a vascular medicine specialist in Anderson today.
What Causes Vascular Disease?
When vascular disease cannot be attributed to a genetic disorder, it's possible that smoking, poor diet, or sedentary lifestyle contributed to its development. Preexisting conditions – including high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol – often cause vascular disease that leads to heart attacks or strokes. Traumatic injuries that severely damage blood vessels may also lead to vascular disease if those injuries are not treated properly or do not respond well to treatment.
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) affects arteries not associated with brain and heart functioning. Also called peripheral artery disease, PVD develops the same way vascular disease develops: accumulation of cholesterol and fat deposits will narrow and harden the arteries. When PVD severely restricts blood flow to tissues and organs, ischemia can lead to numbness, tissue death, and possible gangrene.
Sometimes the cause of vascular disease is unknown. When doctors can't find a reason for vascular disease, they may recommend genetic testing. Rare inherited syndromes like Grange syndrome impact blood vessels by blocking blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, brain, kidneys, and lungs. Grange syndrome is typically recognizable at birth, with babies having abnormally short toes and fingers and a heart defect.
Physicians specializing in vascular medicine in Anderson provide comprehensive services for adults with vascular disease. Call today to schedule an appointment with a vascular disease doctor.
Vascular Disease Risk Factors
Age is the predominate risk factor for vascular disease. After age 40, heart muscles begin to degenerate slightly, while a fat-like substance called lipofuscin begins to form deposits in the heart due to simple wear and tear. Heart valves and capillary walls start thickening and stiffening. Baroreceptors in soft tissues surrounding the heart that help regulate blood pressure lose sensitivity to body position changes as we age. Stiffening of the aorta, the main heart artery, is also an age-related issue that causes otherwise-healthy individuals to experience increases in their blood pressure.
While artery and vein health naturally diminishes with age, premature vascular disease can be exacerbated by other risk factors. These include:
Chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or autoimmune disease
A family history of vascular disease
Previous injuries or systemic infections that negatively impacted veins and arteries
Jobs that require standing or sitting for long periods
Pregnancy (vascular disease may or may not go away after a pregnancy)
Although vascular disease is not always avoidable, you can do the following things to reduce your risk of getting the disease:
Eat a healthy diet
Get the recommended amount of exercise for your age group
Limit yourself to one to two alcoholic drinks per week
Control blood sugar if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes
Get regular physical examinations, including blood and urine lab testing
Peripheral vascular medicine in Anderson not only provides diagnostic testing and advanced treatment for vascular disease, but it also refers patients to professionals who specialize in nutrition and exercise programs who can help improve the overall health and well-being of our vascular disease patients.
Diagnosing Vascular Disease
Early stage vascular disease is usually asymptomatic. When you have hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol, there is the possibility that your blood vessels may be starting to narrow or harden. If your doctor suspects you have vascular disease, you may need to undergo one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
Ultrasound scans that indicate how well blood flows through veins and arteries
Magnetic resonance angiography that provides detailed images of arterial stenosis, aneurysms, and other damage affecting arteries
Arteriography, which inserts dye into specific arteries or veins before a machine x-rays the affected areas
Arterial physiologic tests, in which several blood pressure cuffs wrap around your legs and arms at various places to measure blood flow volume and blood pressure at each cuff point
Other types of diagnostic testing for vascular disease can address specific areas of the body:
Transcranial doppler is an ultrasound scan that examines blood vessels under the skull that send blood to the brain
Carotid duplex, another ultrasound scan, evaluates carotid (neck) arteries that supply the brain with blood
Abdominal vascular duplex uses ultrasound imaging to assess blood vessels that supply blood to the the stomach, liver, and other abdominal organs
Exploratory surgery is used as a last resort for determining the severity of vascular disease. It is more commonly performed when vascular disease impacts the heart and associated blood vessels. Minimally invasive vascular disease treatment is preferred unless surgery is necessary.
Treating Vascular Disease in Anderson, SC
AnMed Health is a leader in treating those with vascular disease. The expert physicians at AnMed Health Heart and Vascular Center perform a number of vascular procedures including:
Carotid endarterectomy surgery
Renal and visceral artery stenting
Lower extremity angioplasty, atherectomy and stenting
Angioplasty and stenting are the most common procedures to treat blockages. During an angioplasty, the vascular surgeon inflates a small balloon inside a narrowed blood vessel. The balloon helps widen the blood vessel and improve blood flow. Sometimes after the blood vessel is widened, the vascular surgeon will insert a stent. Stents are tiny metal mesh tubes that support your artery walls to keep your vessels wide open. In an aneurysm repair, vascular surgeons repair or remove an enlarged and weakened section of an artery.
Aneurysm repairs can be take place through an open incision or in a minimally-invasive procedure called endovascular aneurysm repair. The best method to repair each aneurysm depends upon several factors, including the location and shape of the aneurysm as well as the patient’s overall health. Peripheral vascular disease patients who have open wounds can also benefit from hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Hyperbaric oxygen provides several benefits, including:
- Greater blood vessel formation
- Advanced wound healing
- Preservation of damaged tissues
- Elimination of toxic substances
- Reduction or elimination of tissue obstruction by gas bubbles
What to Expect
What to expect during treatment of vascular disease depends on your exact condition. In most cases, people who are screened for vascular disease have not yet had a heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm. When caught early by diagnostic tests, vascular disease can be successfully treated with medications and lifestyle changes.
To manage vascular disease properly, your doctor will help you stop smoking (if you smoke), recommend a heart-healthy diet, and create an exercise plan. Adhering to your doctor's guidelines following a diagnosis of vascular disease is especially important to people who already have chronic diseases. Keeping all follow-up appointments with your doctor and reporting new or worsening symptoms is also vital to controlling vascular disease.
Your vascular medicine specialist in Anderson is always available to answer your questions, listen to your concerns, and offer assistance that will help you maintain the highest quality of life possible during treatment of all vascular diseases.
Why AnMed Health?
When you seek vascular care at AnMed Health, a multi-disciplinary team of highly trained providers focuses on you and your unique needs, which means you’ll receive the best quality, most compassionate care.