What is vascular disease? | Ohio State Medical Center

Everybody knows what a heart attack is but
the same condition that causes a heart attack, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries,
actually affects not just the coronary arteries but the blood vessels throughout the body.
It’s very common for them for that process to affect the vessels of the legs and if you
have blockage in blood flow to the legs you can get pain in the legs when you walk, kind
of like a leg attack, you know, which would be analogous to a a heart attack. In it’s
end stages patients can get sores that don’t heal in the feet or what we call gangrene
as a result of blocked arteries to the foot. It’s the same process as heart disease just
different blood vessels in the body. So the most common and earliest stage of symptomatic
lower extremity vascular disease is what we call claudication. Typically that’s described
as cramping of the muscles below the level of blockage. So if you have a blockage in
the pelvic or hip area a patient might have cramping in the thighs when they walk longer
distances or walk up stairs. If you have blockage in the thigh or at the knee level you’ll get
cramping of the calf and that’s called claudication. Typically the cramping is associated with
walking, or walking briskly, walking up a hill or walking up flights of stairs because
that’s when the muscle is being exercised. It’s demanding more blood flow. The heart
cannot pump the blood down there because of blockages. If you have nighttime cramping
often that’s more related to other things – electrolyte abnormalities, very commonly
dehydration so nighttime cramping not necessarily. The most important things are what we call
risk factor modification – stopping smoking, making sure that cholesterol levels are controlled,
blood sugar is controlled in diabetics and blood pressure is controlled. After that we
have some medications that help to improve the distance a patient can walk before they
get symptoms. And finally if the symptoms are severe enough we go to procedures. We
can be we can do minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty and stent that don’t require
operations or incisions and if necessary we can also do bypass surgeries of the leg, again
analogous to a bypass surgery of the heart where we surgically run a a bypass around
the blocked blood vessel in the leg. Here at Ohio State we really pride ourselves on
our multidisciplinary approach to treatment of vascular disease. Vascular disease is a
condition that requires the expertise of medical doctors, surgical doctors and interventional
doctors. And here we can provide a one stop shopping experience for patients with vascular
disease to get all of the treatments they need from all of the involved specialties.

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