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Conditions

  • Aortoiliac Disease
  • Tab 1
  • Arm Artery Disease
  • Tab 2
  • Carotid Disease
  • Tab 3
  • Claudication
  • Tab 4
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Tab 5
  • Diabetic Vascular Disease
  • Tab 6
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Tab 7
  • Lymphedema
  • Tab 8
  • Mesenteric Ischemia
  • Tab 9
  • Peripheral Aneurysms
  • Tab 10
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Tab 11
  • Renovascular Conditions
  • Tab 12
  • Thoracic Aneurysm
  • Tab 13
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Tab 14
  • Varicose Veins
  • Tab 15
  • Venous Insufficiency
  • Tab 16
Tab 1

Aortoiliac occlusive disease occurs when your iliac arteries become narrowed or blocked. The aorta, your body's main artery, splits into branches at about the level of your belly button. These branches are called the iliac arteries. The iliac arteries go through your pelvis into your legs, where they divide into many smaller arteries that run down to your toes. Aortoiliac disease is considered a type of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) because it affects arteries, which are blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart to your limbs.

Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue. As more plaque builds up, it causes your arteries to narrow and stiffen. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Eventually, enough plaque builds up to interfere with blood flow in your iliac arteries or leg arteries. Physicians call this aortoiliac occlusive disease because it involves the aortoiliac arteries.

When your iliac arteries narrow or become blocked, your legs may not receive the blood and oxygen they need. This lack of oxygen is called ischemia and it can cause pain. In severe cases, sores or gangrene can develop, which can result in losing a limb. However, these developments are uncommon unless the process is not treated and is allowed to progress.

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Tab 2

Your arteries carry blood rich in oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. When an artery between your chest and your hand becomes blocked, your arm or hand does not receive enough blood or oxygen. You may have a condition called arm artery disease.

Arm artery disease is an uncommon form of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Most people with PAD have blocked leg arteries, called leg artery disease. Although arm artery disease can come on quickly, it usually starts slowly and gets worse over a long period of time. If you have mild arm artery disease, you may not notice any symptoms. As the disease advances, you may experience pain in the arm with activity and, if it becomes more severe, you eventually may develop sores or gangrene in your arm, in particular in the tips of your fingers. Gangrene is tissue death and occurs when tissues in your body do not receive enough oxygen and blood.

Like other types of PAD, arm artery disease can be caused by atherosclerosis, which means hardening of the arteries. Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue. In atherosclerosis, your arteries narrow or become blocked as plaque builds up on your artery walls.

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Tab 3

Carotid artery disease occurs when the major arteries in your neck become narrowed or blocked. These arteries, called the carotid arteries, supply your brain with blood. Your carotid arteries extend from your aorta in your chest to the brain inside your skull.

You are more likely to develop carotid artery disease as you age. Only 1 percent of adults age 50 to 59 have significantly narrowed carotid arteries, but 10 percent of adults age 80 to 89 have this problem.

Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue. As more plaque builds up, your arteries narrow and stiffen. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. When enough plaque builds up to reduce or disturb blood flow through your carotid arteries, physicians call this problem carotid artery disease. Carotid artery disease is a serious health problem because it can cause a stroke.

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Tab 4

Leg artery disease (peripheral arterial disease or PAD) can cause discomfort or pain when you walk. While the pain most often occurs in the calf it can also occur in your hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, shins, or upper feet. This pain is called intermittent claudication.

Claudication is discomfort or pain in your legs that happens when you walk and goes away when you rest. You may not always feel pain; instead you may feel a tightness, heaviness, cramping, or weakness in your legs. Claudication often occurs more quickly if you walk uphill or up a flight of stairs or more rapidly than usual. Over time, if your PAD worsens, you may begin to feel claudication beginning at shorter walking distances.

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Tab 5

Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body, whereas your veins are the blood vessels that return oxygen-poor blood back to your heart. You have three kinds of veins. Superficial veins lie close to your skin, and the deep veins lie in groups of muscles. Perforating veins connect the superficial veins to the deep veins with one-way valves. Deep veins lead to the vena cava, your body's largest vein, which runs directly to your heart. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in one of the deep veins. Usually, DVT occurs in your pelvis, thigh, or calf, but it can also occur less commonly in your arm, chest, or other locations.

DVT can cause sudden swelling, pain or a sensation of warmth. DVT can be dangerous because it can cause a complication known as pulmonary embolism. In this condition, a blood clot breaks free from your deep veins, travels through your bloodstream, and lodges in your lungs. This clot can block blood flow in your lungs, which can strain your heart and lungs. A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency. A large embolism can be fatal in a short time.

It can sometimes be difficult to recognize the symptoms of DVT. However, the condition can be effectively treated once your physician diagnoses it.

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Tab 6

Diabetic vascular disease refers to the development of blockages in the arteries, sometimes called “hardening of the arteries,” throughout the body because of diabetes. If you have diabetes, it means that too much glucose (blood sugar) is in your bloodstream because of your body's inability to either produce insulin or to use insulin efficiently. Insulin is a hormone that you need to transport glucose from the bloodstream into your cells where it is used to produce energy.

You may also develop several vascular diseases that have been linked to diabetes. One of these is retinopathy, which is the abnormal growth of blood vessels in your retina, which is part of your eye. Another condition linked to diabetes is a kidney disease called nephropathy. If you have diabetes, you are also more prone to hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease. You may also develop neuropathy, a condition of the nerves themselves that causes a loss of protective sensation in the toes or feet.

Controlling your blood sugar is the best way to slow or prevent these vascular problems. If you do not manage your diabetes or maintain healthy habits, you could develop serious health conditions, including blindness, severe kidney disease, stroke, heart attack, or sores in your feet. Eventually, if you develop dead tissue, which is known as gangrene, it could lead to infection and ultimately to amputation.

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Tab 7

Lipid is the scientific term for fats in the blood. At proper levels, lipids perform important functions in your body, but can cause health problems if they are present in excess. The term hyperlipidemia means high lipid levels. Hyperlipidemia includes several conditions, but it usually means that you have high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels.

High lipid levels can speed up a process called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as you age, a sticky substance called plaque forms in the walls of your arteries. Plaque is made of lipids and other materials circulating in your blood. As more plaque builds up, your arteries can narrow and stiffen. Eventually, enough plaque may build up to reduce blood flow through your arteries.

Atherosclerosis increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other vascular diseases. Fortunately, you may be able to reduce high lipid levels and, therefore, prevent or slow the progression of atherosclerosis. Lifestyle changes like exercising and eating a healthy diet can also lower your lipid levels and are often the first step in treatment.

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Tab 8

Lymphedema occurs when a clear fluid known as lymphatic fluid builds up in the soft tissues of your body, usually in an arm or leg. The lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels and lymph nodes that run through your body. Lymph vessels collect a fluid that is made up of protein, water, fats, and wastes from the cells of the body. Lymph vessels carry this fluid to your lymph nodes. Lymph nodes filter waste materials and foreign products, and then return the fluid to your blood. If your vessels or nodes become damaged or are missing, the lymph fluid cannot move freely through the system. The fluids can then build up and cause swelling, known as lymphedema, in the affected arms or legs.

There are two types of lymphedema:

  • Inherited lymphedema, sometimes called primary lymphedema, in which you are born lacking lymph vessels and nodes. The swelling usually appears during your adolescence and affects your foot or calf. A rare form of primary lymphedema develops in infancy and is called Milroy’s disease
  • Acquired lymphedema, sometimes called secondary lymphedema, in which an injury to your lymphatic system causes lymphedema. It is much more common than primary lymphedema

Some people develop chronic lymphedema, which can last for the rest of their lives. Chronic lymphedema can be difficult to treat. Swollen limbs may become vulnerable to infection. Even a minor injury to the skin, such as a cut, scratch, insect bite, or even athlete’s foot between the toes can cause a severe infection, which physicians call lymphangitis. Lymphangitis affects the connective tissue under the skin. Repeated infections can cause scarring that makes the tissue vulnerable to more swelling and infection. This leads to the tissue hardening, called fibrosis, which is characteristic of advanced chronic lymphedema.

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Tab 9

The mesenteric arteries are the arteries that supply blood to your large and small intestines. Ischemia occurs when your blood cannot flow through your arteries as well as it should, and your intestines do not receive the necessary oxygen to perform normally. Mesenteric ischemia usually involves the small intestine, but it may also involve other intra-abdominal organs such as the colon, liver, and stomach.

Mesenteric ischemia usually occurs when one or more of your mesenteric arteries narrows or becomes blocked. When this blockage occurs, you can experience severe abdominal pain. Over time, often quickly, the blockage may worsen and cause tissues in your intestine to die because they lack enough blood flow.

Mesenteric ischemia usually occurs in people older than age 60. You may be more likely to experience mesenteric ischemia if you are a smoker or have a high cholesterol level.

Mesenteric ischemia can be either chronic or acute. Chronic means that you have had the condition and symptoms over a relatively long period of time. Acute means that the symptoms start abruptly and become very serious in a short period of time. Chronic mesenteric ischemia can progress without warning to acute mesenteric ischemia, sometimes very quickly.

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Tab 10

When a weak area of a blood vessel expands or bulges significantly, physicians call it an aneurysm. Most aneurysms occur in the aorta, your body's largest artery. The aorta carries blood away from your heart to the rest of your body. The part of your aorta located in your chest is called the thoracic aorta, and when your aorta reaches your abdomen, it is called the abdominal aorta.

Peripheral aneurysms affect the arteries other than the aorta. Most peripheral aneurysms occur in the popliteal artery, which runs down the back of your lower thigh and knee. Less commonly, peripheral aneurysms also develop in the femoral artery in your groin, the carotid artery in your neck, or sometimes the arteries in your arms. A special type of peripheral aneurysm that forms in the arteries feeding the kidneys or the bowel is called a visceral aneurysm.

If you have a peripheral aneurysm in one leg, you are more likely to have an aneurysm in the other leg. You also have a greater chance of having an aortic aneurysm.

Aortic aneurysms can cause serious complications because they can burst or rupture. Peripheral aneurysms do not rupture as often as aortic aneurysms, although they can do so. However, peripheral aneurysms more commonly can form clots that may block blood flow to your limbs or brain. Peripheral aneurysms, especially if they are large, can also compress a nearby nerve or vein and cause pain, numbness, or swelling.

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Tab 11

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in a vein, travels through your bloodstream, and lodges in your lungs. A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency because a large embolism, or sometimes many repeated smaller ones, can be fatal in a short time.

Normally, your blood flows from the right side of your heart to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen. The left side of your heart then pumps this oxygen-rich blood through a system of blood vessels called arteries. Once your blood has delivered the oxygen to various parts of your body, it enters another network of blood vessels called the veins. Your veins carry the now oxygen-poor blood back to your heart, which pumps your blood to your lungs to pick up oxygen again. If a blood clot forms in a vein, commonly a deep vein in your leg, it can move with the blood flow back to your lungs and lodge there. This blood clot is called a pulmonary embolism.

If your lung arteries become blocked by a blood clot, you may experience high blood pressure in your lungs. As a result, your heart pumps harder than usual. When your heart is continually overworked, it may enlarge, and it may eventually fail to perform. A large pulmonary embolism can cause your lungs and heart to fail. Fortunately, your chances of surviving a pulmonary embolism increase when your physician can diagnose and treat your condition quickly.

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Tab 12

Renovascular conditions affect the blood vessels of your kidneys, called the renal arteries and veins. When the blood flow is normal through your kidneys, your kidneys rid your body of wastes. The kidneys filter these wastes into your urine, which collects in your bladder, and from there the wastes exit your body when you urinate. Your kidneys also help control your blood pressure by sensing the blood pressure and secreting a hormone, called renin, into your bloodstream. The amount of renin secreted by your kidneys can help regulate your blood pressure if it is too high or too low. When your kidney blood vessels narrow or have a clot, your kidney is less able to do its work. Your physician may diagnose you with renal artery stenosis or renal vein thrombosis.

Renal artery stenosis is the narrowing of kidney arteries. This condition may cause high blood pressure and may eventually lead to kidney failure. Renal vein thrombosis means that you have a blood clot blocking a vein in your kidney. Blood clots in renal veins are uncommon and rarely affect the kidney, but they can sometimes travel to and lodge in arteries supplying your lungs, causing a dangerous condition called a pulmonary embolism.

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Tab 13

The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and it carries blood away from your heart to all the parts of your body. The part of your aorta that runs through your chest is called the thoracic aorta and, when your aorta reaches your abdomen, it is called the abdominal aorta. When a weak area of your thoracic aorta expands or bulges, it is called a thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA). Approximately 25 percent of aortic aneurysms occur in the chest, and the rest involve the abdominal aorta.

Thoracic aortic aneurysms are serious health risks because they can burst or rupture. A ruptured aneurysm can cause severe internal bleeding, which can rapidly lead to shock or death.

Thoracic aneurysms affect approximately 15,000 people in the United States each year. Some patients may have more than one TAA or may also have an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta. Only about 20 to 30 percent of patients who get to the hospital with a ruptured TAA survive. For this reason, it is crucial to treat large aneurysms early, in order to prevent their rupture.

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Tab 14

Your thoracic outlet is a small space just behind and below your collarbone. The blood vessels and nerves that serve your arm are located in this space. Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is the presence of hand and arm symptoms due to pressure against the nerves or blood vessels in the thoracic outlet area.

There are three types of TOS. The type depends on which structure is compressed -- nerve, vein, or artery. Ninety-five percent of cases of TOS are due to compression of the nerves to the arm (called neurogenic TOS). Three to 4 percent are due to obstruction or clotting of the main vein to the arm, the subclavian vein, a condition called venous TOS. The third type, arterial TOS, is the rarest type, occurring in 1 percent of cases, and it is due to disease in the artery leading to the arm, the subclavian artery. Almost all cases of arterial TOS are associated with an extra rib (cervical rib) or an abnormal first rib.

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Tab 15

Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body and veins return oxygen-poor blood back to your heart.

Varicose veins are swollen veins that you can see through your skin. They often look blue, bulging, and twisted. Left untreated, varicose veins may worsen over time. Varicose veins can cause aching and feelings of fatigue as well as skin changes like rashes, redness, and sores. As many as 40 million Americans, most of them women, have varicose veins.

You have three kinds of veins in your legs; the superficial veins, which lie closest to your skin, the deep veins, which lie in groups of muscles and perforating veins, which connect the superficial veins to the deep veins. The deep veins lead to the vena cava, your body's largest vein, which runs directly to your heart. Varicose veins occur in the superficial veins in your legs.

When you are in the upright position, the blood in your leg veins must work against gravity to return to your heart. To accomplish this, your leg muscles squeeze the deep veins of your legs and feet. One-way flaps, called valves, in your veins keep blood flowing in the right direction. When your leg muscles contract, the valves inside your veins open. When your legs relax, the valves close. This prevents blood from flowing in reverse, back down the legs. The entire process of sending blood back to the heart is called the venous pump.

When you walk and your leg muscles squeeze, the venous pump works well. But when you sit or stand, especially for a long time, the blood in your leg veins can pool and the pressure in your veins can increase. Deep veins and perforating veins are usually able to withstand short periods of increased pressures. However, if you are a susceptible individual, your veins can stretch if you repeatedly sit or stand for a long time. This stretching can sometimes weaken the walls of your veins and damage your vein valves. Varicose veins may result. Spider veins are mild varicose veins. They look like a nest of red or blue lines just under your skin. Spider veins are not a serious medical problem, but they can be a cosmetic concern to some people, and they can cause symptoms of aching pain and itching in others.

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Tab 16

Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body and veins return oxygen-poor blood back to your heart. When your leg veins cannot pump enough blood back to your heart, you have chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). CVI is also sometimes called chronic venous disease, or CVD. You have three kinds of veins: superficial veins, which lie close to the skin, deep veins, which lie in groups of muscles, and perforating veins, which connect the superficial to the deep veins. Deep veins lead to the vena cava, your body's largest vein, which runs directly to your heart.

When you are in the upright position, the blood in your leg veins must go against gravity to return to your heart. To accomplish this, your leg muscles squeeze the deep veins of your legs and feet to help move blood back to your heart. One-way flaps, called valves, in your veins keep blood flowing in the right direction. When your leg muscles relax, the valves inside your veins close. This prevents blood from flowing in reverse, back down the legs. The entire process of sending blood back to the heart is called the venous pump.

When you walk and your leg muscles squeeze, the venous pump works well. But when you sit or stand, especially for a long time, the blood in your leg veins can pool and increase the venous blood pressure. Deep veins and perforating veins are usually able to withstand short periods of increased pressures. However, sitting or standing for a long time can stretch vein walls because they are flexible. Over time, in susceptible individuals, this can weaken the walls of the veins and damage the vein valves, causing CVI.

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