While most people are familiar with heart disease, in which there are blockages in the vessels that carry blood to and from the heart, few realize that blockages caused by a buildup of plaque and cholesterol affect more than the coronary arteries. Arteries throughout the body carry oxygen rich blood away from the heart, so blockages can occur in all arteries with serious effects, such as vascular disease.
Three common vascular diseases are carotid artery disease, atherosclerosis, abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral artery disease (PAD).
- Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease occurs when fatty deposits (plaque) begin to clog the blood vessels that deliver blood to the carotid arteries in your brain and head. As these blockages increase, so do your risk for stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is seriously reduced or interrupted.
Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries in which fatty deposits (plaque) build up on the inner walls of the arteries. This plaque build-up is caused by high cholesterol, high blood pressure or smoking.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the lower part of the major vessel that supplies blood to the body (aorta) becomes enlarged. The aorta runs from the heart through the center of the chest and abdomen. It is the largest blood vessel in the body. If an abdominal aortic aneurysm ruptures it can cause life-threatening bleeding.
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)PAD is a life threatening condition caused by the narrowing of your arteries to your legs. Fatty buildup, called plaque, clings to your artery walls, restricting blood flow to your legs. Atherosclerosis, one cause of PAD, is a process where cholesterol and scar tissue build up to clog blood vessels. This is sometimes referred to as “hardening of the arteries.” Blood clots are another cause of PAD.
A vascular surgeon treats patients with all forms of vascular disease, including those with aneurysms in the chest, abdomen or extremities; PAD; carotid artery disease or other blockages that may cause a stroke; kidney failure; and varicose veins, spider veins or leg ulcers caused by venous disease.
There are many different examinations that assist in diagnosing vascular disease, including bruit, or a sound heard in the neck, a carotid ultrasound or CT scan to identify stroke-like symptoms or an aneurysm, or a Doppler study.
Most often, vascular surgeons will start with diet and exercise modifications, as well as medication, as the first step in treating vascular disease. Common medications used for patients with vascular disease are statins. Studies have shown that patients taking statins can reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke, in particular by reducing high cholesterol. In addition, patients with hardening of the arteries in the legs and brain benefited from taking statins.
Surgical procedures performed at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland include:
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair
- Carotid Artery Stenting
- Carotid Endarterectomy and Bypass
- Chronic Swollen Leg Management
- Chronic Venous Occlusion Angioplasty and Stenting
- Complex Endovascular Repair Utilizing Chimneys & Snorkels
- Complex Lower Extremity Wound Management
- Dialysis Access Surgery
- Endovascular Aneurysm Coil Embolization
- Endovascular Aortic Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)
- Endovascular Dialysis Access Maintenance
- Fenestrated Endovascular Aortic Aneurysm Repair (FEVAR)
- Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Placement and Removal
- Lower Extremity Amputation
- Lower Extremity Peripheral Artery Bypass
- Mesenteric and Renal Artery Endovascular and Open Repair
- Open Direct Aneurysm Repair
- PAD Interventions and Limb-Saving Techniques
- Peripheral Angioplasty and Stenting
- Peripheral Arteriogram
- Peripheral Atherectomy
- Peripheral Endovascular Revascularization
- Peripheral Intravascular Ultrasound
- Peripheral Venous Stenting and Angioplasty
- Pseudoaneurysm Repair and Treatment
- PV Embolectomy and Thrombolysis
- Ruptured Aneurysm Repair
- Subclavian Steal Syndrome
- Supra-aortic Trunk Pathology
- Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Repair
- Thoracic Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (TEVAR)
- Treatment of Chronic DVT
- Vertebral Artery Reconstruction
If nonsurgical management of your condition hasn’t worked, surgery may be an option. Your health care provider can help you decide if you might be a good candidate for surgery based on your diagnosis and other health and lifestyle factors.