Your body's blood vessels perform a vital function—carrying oxygen-rich blood to your body's cells. Because arteries and veins do such an important job, it takes skilled professionals to treat them when something goes wrong. Vascular disease generally refers to any condition that affects the body's major blood vessels. Vascular surgeons treat a range of diseases, from blockage of the carotid arteries in the neck to aneurysms of the abdominal aorta to atherosclerosis (sometimes called arteriosclerosis) and blood clots affecting the legs and feet.
At Jobst Vascular Institute, you can trust your vascular health to the capable hands of our surgeons and support staff. We treat many forms of vascular disease, including:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Aortic dissection
- Carotid artery disease
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Critical limb ischemia
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
- Renovascular hypertension
- Varicose veins V
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is typically defined as atherosclerotic disease involving the arteries of the legs. PAD is highly prevalent yet frequently underdiagnosed. A common symptom of PAD is a type of leg pain known as claudication—calf pain that occurs during exercise but that stops during rest. Some patients who have more advanced PAD experience what is called ischemic pain while resting. For example, when the legs are elevated (such as during sleep), they have leg pain and will only find relief by sitting up or standing.
It is absolutely vital that you seek a diagnosis for PAD if you are experiencing its common symptoms. PAD is a marker for systemic atherosclerotic disease, and patients with PAD are at high risk for heart attack, stroke and death. Most patients with PAD are accurately diagnosed with a good history and physical examination. There is also a simple, reliable test for diagnosing PAD that is known as the ankle-brachial index (ABI). Physicians are encouraged to perform the ABI on appropriate patients; they should also feel comfortable referring suspected or high-risk PAD patients to vascular laboratories or specialists. Talk to your physician about PAD if you are concerned that you may be at risk.
You can manage your PAD through lifestyle changes such as exercise and quitting smoking. Pharmacologic treatment such as antiplatelet therapy can also help you manage your PAD. Studies have shown that smoking cessation and a formal exercise program can slow the progression of the disease and improve your quality of life.
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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
The aorta, which is the main artery in the chest and abdomen, carries blood from the heart to all organs in your body. An aneurysm occurs when the wall of a blood vessel is weakened or damaged and forms a bulge or balloon. Although aneurysms can occur in any blood vessel, they occur most frequently in the abdominal portion of the aorta. This type of aneurysm is known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
Three out of four AAAs have no symptoms, although some patients may feel abdominal or lower back pain or experience a pulsating feeling in the abdomen. Most AAAs occur in men between the ages of 50 and 60 (they are less likely in women but can occur in women as well). Risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm increases with age, family history of AAA, high blood pressure and smoking.
Treatment of AAA depends upon its size and how quickly it is growing. Treatment might include monitoring, surgical repair, or endovascular repair.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot (also known as a thrombus) forms in a deep vein. The most common place in the body for DVT to develop is in the leg. DVT can be caused by injury to a vein, by illnesses (such as cancer), by immobility (such as prolonged bed rest), or from a blood disorder.
A DVT may cause symptoms such as swelling and pain, although many patients have no symptoms. A dangerous complication of a DVT occurs if a clot breaks loose (called an embolus), travels through the venous system to the lungs, and obstructs a blood vessel. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE) and can be fatal. Chest pain or shortness of breath are classic symptoms of a PE and require immediate medical attention.
If you are concerned you may be at risk for DVT, talk to your physician about it. Your physician can identify your personal risk factors for DVT and give you advice on how to prevent it. If you are at risk for or suffering from DVT, your physician can refer you to Jobst Vascular Institute for treatment.