The body’s vascular system is a complex network of veins and arteries that deliver blood, nutrients and hormones to and from the cells. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart, while veins carry blood back to your heart. When these vessels become thick, stiff, obstructed or weakened, blood can no longer flow freely, putting the body at risk for life-threatening diseases like stroke, heart attacks, blood clots and loss of limbs.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
Cause: An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in an artery wall. They can occur in the brain, intestine, neck, spleen, legs or heart.
Symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysms: Back, side, abdominal or groin pain, but are often asymptomatic until they expand or rupture.
Carotid Artery Disease and Stroke Prevention
Cause: Carotid artery disease—the buildup of fatty plaques in arteries that deliver blood to your brain—is the cause of most strokes. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, along with medications can help restore blood flow to the brain. Angioplasty and stenting can open serious blockages, but they do not control risk factors or stop the disease process that is causing artery-clogging plaque to build up in the arteries.
Symptoms: The acronym FAST (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time) has been used by the National Stroke Association and American Heart Association to detect stroke symptoms.
Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI)
Cause: Severe blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities, which reduces blood flow. This is advanced stage peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is caused by atherosclerosis, hardening and narrowing of the arteries over time due to the buildup of fatty deposits called plaque.
Symptoms: Severe pain in the feet or toes, even when resting. Complications of poor circulation can include sores and wounds that won't heal in the legs and feet. If left untreated, CLI may result in amputation of the affected limb.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Cause: Sores or wounds that won’t heal, usually at the bottom of the feet due to nerve damage or blood vessel complications caused by diabetes.
Symptoms: Swelling, discoloration, discharge and warmth around the wound. Pain and firmness when the wound is touched. Callused or thickened skin surrounding the ulcer. Fever and chills in advanced stages of foot ulcers.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Cause: A circulatory condition that occurs when blood flow to the legs is reduced or completely blocked by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Symptoms: Leg pain, aching or numbness while walking, as well as an aching or tingling/burning sensation in the feet and toes when resting.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
Cause: When the valves in the leg veins are not working effectively, it is difficult for blood to return to the heart from the legs, causing blood to collect in these veins.
Symptoms: Swelling in the lower legs and ankles, aching or tiredness in the legs, new varicose veins, leathery-looking skin on the legs, flaking or itching skin on the legs or feet or ulcers.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Cause: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body, usually in the legs.
Symptoms: Leg or calf pain, red or discolored skin on the leg, and a warm feeling on the skin of the affected leg.
Cause: Vein compression in the pelvis or abdominal area. This condition can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that may partially or completely block blood flow through the vein.
Symptoms: Leg pain, tenderness or throbbing in the leg, skin that looks discolored, red or feels warm to the touch, swelling in the leg, heaviness in the leg, enlarged veins in the leg.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Cause: An accumulation of blood in pelvic veins can cause them to become dilated, enlarged and change shape, like varicose veins, which can lead to the pain and other symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome.
Symptoms: Pelvic pain or aching around the pelvis or lower abdomen, feeling of fullness in the legs, stress incontinence or irritable bowel syndrome.
Cause: Varicose veins often occur in the lower legs when a valve fails, causing blood to flow backward instead of continuing toward the heart.
Symptoms: Varicose veins appear swollen, raised and have a bluish-purple or red color.