Your vascular system is composed of about 100,000 miles of blood vessels; arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart, veins, which carry oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart, and capillaries, which connect the two. It’s a vast and important network, so any problem occurring along the way can quickly become a serious one.
That’s why vascular health is so important.
Vascular disease is any abnormality of the vascular system. Incredibly common, peripheral artery disease (PAD) alone affects some 8-12 million Americans. Some other common vascular diseases include:
- Carotid artery disease (CAD)
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
- Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
- Critical limb ischemia (CLI)
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clots)
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
- Varicose veins
Vascular disease can affect anyone, anywhere outside the heart. It can be caused by a buildup of plaque in your arteries, blood clots, inflammation, or trauma caused by injury or surgery.
However, there are factors that can increase your risk. While some factors like family history and sex (men are generally at a higher risk for vascular diseases than women), others can be managed to mitigate risks. These include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
In the case of one of our patients, Norma, various vascular conditions complicated her recovery from fractures after a fall. Left bed-bound and seriously facing amputation, she turned to the multidisciplinary team at Washington Hospital to salvage her limbs and quality of life.
As part of a coordinated effort that included a variety of specialties, Norma underwent surgery to address her underlying vascular conditions. Internists and nutritionists helped her better manage her diabetes. Wound care specialists helped her heal her wounds. And physical therapists helped her literally get back on her feet.
While there have been many challenges that she’s had to overcome – and many yet to come – we’re thrilled with the progress she’s made. Today, she’s able to walk with a walker device, progressing toward walking unaided. With her dedication and the support of the limb preservation team at Washington Hospital, we’re sure she’ll go far.
To learn more about the life- and quality of life-saving work that we do at Washington Hospital, visit the Washington Hospital website.