Vascular disease is a class of diseases of the blood vessels – the arteries and veins of the circulatory system of the body. Vascular disease is a subgroup of cardiovascular disease. Disorders in this vast network of blood vessels can cause a range of health problems that can sometimes become severe.
|Veins and arteries|
|Types||Peripheral artery disease, Renal artery stenosis|
|Diagnostic method||Venography, Ultrasound|
|Treatment||Quit smoking, Lower cholesterol|
There are several types of vascular disease, and signs and symptoms can vary depending on the disease type. These types include:
- Erythromelalgia - a rare peripheral vascular disease with syndromes that include burning pain, increased temperature, erythema and swelling that generally affect the hands and feet. 
- Peripheral artery disease – occurs when atheromatous plaques build up in the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs, causing the arteries to narrow or become blocked.
- Renal artery stenosis - the narrowing of renal arteries that carry blood to the kidneys from the aorta.
- Buerger's disease – inflammation and swelling in small blood vessels, causing the vessels to narrow or become blocked by blood clots.
- Raynaud's disease – a rare peripheral vascular disorder that causes constriction of the peripheral blood vessels in the fingers and toes when a person is cold or experiencing stress.
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation – a widespread activation of clotting in the smaller blood vessels.
- Cerebrovascular disease – a group of vascular diseases that affect brain function.
Vascular disease is a pathological state of large and medium muscular arteries and is triggered by endothelial cell dysfunction. Because of factors like pathogens, oxidized LDL particles and other inflammatory stimuli endothelial cells become active. The process causes thickening of the vessel wall, forming a plaque that consists of proliferating smooth muscle cells, macrophages and lymphocytes. The plaque results in restricted blood flow, decreasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach certain organs. This plaque can also rupture, causing the formation of clots.
Diagnosing vascular disease can be complex due to the variety of symptoms vascular diseases can cause. Reviewing a patient's family history and conducting a physical examination are important steps in making a diagnosis. Physical exams may differ depending on the type of vascular disease suspected. For example, in the case of a peripheral vascular disease, a physical exam consists of checking blood flow in a patient's legs.
Treatment varies based on the type of vascular disease being treated. In treating renal artery disease, a 2014 study indicates that balloon angioplasty can improve diastolic blood pressure and potentially reduce antihypertensive drug requirements. In the case of peripheral artery disease, treatment to prevent complications is important; without treatment, sores or gangrene (tissue death) may occur.
More generally, treatments for vascular disease may include:
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