Vascular disease is any condition that affects the vascular system, which includes
the arteries, veins and vessels that move blood and lymph (white blood cells) throughout
the body. The vascular system (also called the circulatory system) also carries
waste away from the body’s organs.
Vascular disease can affect the function of the arteries, veins and/or vessels,
as well as impact blood flow in the body. A serious condition called ischemia occurs
when blood flow and oxygen are reduced or restricted to parts of the body.
Types of Vascular Disease
The cardiology specialists at University of Florida Health Jacksonville are experienced
in treating the many forms of vascular disease, including:
- Peripheral artery disease.
This condition occurs when there is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries that
carry blood to the legs, stomach, arms and head.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon. This condition occurs when the smaller arteries
that supply blood to the skin become narrowed, causing not enough blood to reach
- Buerger’s disease. Also known as thromboangiitis obliterans, this
rare condition occurs when the blood vessels of the arms and legs become inflamed
and swollen. This can cause the blood vessels to become blocked with blood clots.
- Peripheral venous disease and varicose veins. Peripheral venous
disease occurs when there is damage or blockage to the veins that carry blood from
the hands and feet and back to the heart. Varicose veins are the gnarled, enlarged
veins that result from this disease.
- Blood clotting disorders. Also known as hypercoagulable states,
these conditions occur when blood clots flow into the veins, not just at the site
of an injury, as blood clotting should function.
- Lymphedema. This condition occurs when there is swelling of the
arms or legs, most often caused by the removal of or damage to the lymph nodes.
Symptoms of Vascular Disease
Just as there are many types of vascular disease, there are also many symptoms.
You should check with your UF Health Jacksonville specialist if you experience any
of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the legs, feet, arms or hands – may be constant or may come and go
- Wounds or open sores on the feet, toes or fingers that don’t heal
- Cramping in the legs or hips during physical activity
- Inflamed veins
- Noticeably cooler skin temperature on the lower leg, foot or fingers compared with
the rest of the body
- Skin changes color in cold temperature
- Skin changes color when you face a stressful situation
- Skin numbness or tingling
Diagnosing Vascular Disease
The team at UF Health Jacksonville may use one or more of the following tests to
determine if you have vascular disease:
- A complete physical exam to assess your overall health and the
strength of your pulse throughout your body.
- Ankle-brachial index (ABI) to compare the blood pressure in your
feet with the blood pressure in your arms to assess how your blood is flowing.
- An angiography to assess how the blood is flowing throughout your
body and to see if there are any blockages.
- Doppler and ultrasound (Duplex) imaging to determine if there is
a blockage in your arteries.
- Computed tomography (CT) angiography to obtain detailed images
of the arteries in your abdomen, pelvis and legs.
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) to obtain detailed images
of your arteries without using an X-ray.
- A non-invasive Allen test to assess if your veins are working properly.
Treating Vascular Disease
When diagnosed with vascular disease, your cardiovascular specialist at UF Health
Jacksonville will recommend lifestyle modifications that can decrease your risk
of complications related to the condition, such as:
- Adopting a heart-healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium,
and high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains
- Drinking plenty of water
- Quitting smoking
- Managing diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
While making these lifestyle modifications is important, it is oftentimes not enough
to treat vascular disease. Your cardiologist may recommend one or more of the following
prescription medications to help manage your condition:
- Blood pressure medications
- Cholesterol medications
- Anticoagulant (anti-clotting) medications
- Blood thinning medications
- Calcium channel blockers
- Alpha blockers
- ACE inhibitors
In severe cases of vascular disease, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure
to have the affected veins removed.
Complications of Vascular Disease
If you have a condition that affects your vascular system, it is important that
you seek treatment. If left untreated, vascular disease can cause:
- Coronary artery disease
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
Why Choose UF Health for Treatment of Vascular Disease
The UF Health Cardiovascular Center includes internationally recognized physicians
who are leaders in cardiac and vascular care, research and education. Our cardiologists
and vascular surgeons, as faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine
– Jacksonville, participate in numerous national and international clinical
trials and offer accredited fellowship training programs in cardiology, electrophysiology
and interventional cardiology.
These faculty physicians provide services at the UF Health Cardiovascular Center,
which has fully integrated, comprehensive heart programs, including a coronary interventional
program, nuclear program, electrophysiology program, non-invasive program and peripheral
interventional program. UF Health Jacksonville is renowned for treating patients
with complex diseases and being on the forefront of advancing the science of interventional
cardiology. Using the most sophisticated equipment available, the center offers
state-of-the-art diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative cardiac services. Many
leading-edge interventional therapies are offered in Northeast Florida only at the
UF Health Cardiovascular Center – Jacksonville.