Types of Vascular Disease

There are many types of vascular disease. The most common of which include peripheral vascular disease, aneurysm, and carotid artery disease.

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease is an overarching term that encompasses vascular disease that results from circulatory dysfunction in arteries or veins. This includes the reduced circulation of blood to a body part, other than the heart or brain. This is usually caused by a narrowing, blockage, or spasms in peripheral blood vessels (vessels situated away from the heart or brain). Types of PVD can include:

  • Peripheral Venous Disease (PVD) is a type of vascular disease that afflicts your veins, the vessels that carry your blood back to your heart. An early symptom of PVD can be spider veins, which appear as small, damaged veins. More severe disease can include varicose veins.
    • Varicose Veinsvenous veins, or venous insufficiency, is a medical condition where the veins cannot pump enough oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. This is due to damaged or “incompetent” valves, causing the veins to remain filled with blood, especially when you are standing. These enlarged, swollen vessels are known as varicose veins. Oftentimes they appear twisted.
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is type of vascular disease that afflicts only your arteries and commonly affects your lower extremities. This means that the vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart, the arteries, are narrowed or blocked. This is a serious condition that impacts the blood supply to the legs and feet. It occurs when plaque build-up in the arteries (atherosclerosis) causes the walls of the arteries to become narrowed and therefore decreases blood flow. When the blood supply to the leg muscles is decreased, it causes severe cramping. A complete blockage can result in constant leg pain, leg ulcers or even gangrene and possible amputation.

An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. There are several types of aneurysms that can occur, such as an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms​ (AAA). AAA is an enlargement of the lower part of the aorta that extends through the abdominal area. The aorta is the main artery that travels through your chest and abdomen and carries oxygen-rich blood to your body. Aneurysms can be life-threatening due to dangerous bleeding that may occur if they rupture or dissect.

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease occurs when the main blood vessels to the brain develop a buildup of plaque caused by atherosclerosis. Over time, this narrowing may eventually become so severe that a blockage decreases blood flow to the brain, causing stroke. A stroke can also occur if a piece of plaque or a blood clot breaks off from the wall of the carotid artery and travels to the smaller arteries of the brain.

Hoag’s State-of-the-Art Vascular Disease Care

When it comes to diagnosing vascular disease and treating vascular disease, Hoag Heart & Vascular Institute is a nationally recognized leader. With its exceptional team of physician experts and staff, progressive technology, and state-of-the-art facilities, Hoag continues to lead the way in comprehensive vascular disease care both locally and nationwide. Learn more about our Vascular Program screening and diagnostics as well as our treatment options.