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Vascular Disease

Your heart pumps blood through your body using your vascular system, a complex network of veins and arteries. Vascular disease refers to any problem with this network, also called your circulatory system.

Vascular diseases include problems with your arteries (which take blood away from your heart), your veins (which return blood to your heart), and your lymph vessels (which are involved in removing damaged cells).

Experienced vascular specialists at Baystate Health (BH) offer the most advanced treatments in Western Massachusetts. Rely on our team to accurately diagnose and treat a range of vascular diseases, including abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), stroke, Raynaud's disease, carotid artery disease (CAD), atherosclerosis, peripheral venous disease (PVD), and peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Risk Factors

Vascular problems can occur for a variety of reasons. You have a higher risk for atherosclerosis, PAD, and PVD if you:

  • Smoke
  • Are overweight
  • Have diabetes
  • Don’t stay active
  • Have had a heart attack
  • Have a family history of vascular disease

Diagnosis

Tests that can help diagnose vascular disease include:

  • Angiography
  • Ankle-Brachial Index
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound

Treatment

Your BH vascular specialist will work closely with you to determine your diagnosis and the best treatment for you. It’s recommended that you quit smoking, eat better, and manage your weight and your stress. Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage symptoms.

Additionally, your doctor may recommend a procedure or surgery. Options include:

  • Angioplasty, or percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA), is used to widen any narrowing in your artery without traditional surgery. A catheter (thin tube) with a small inflatable balloon on the end is inserted into the narrowed section of the artery. The balloon is filled with saline solution and inflated. It pushes against the plaque and the wall of the artery, widening the space for blood flow. The balloon is then deflated and removed from the artery.
  • Stent implantation is often done at the same time as an angioplasty. A stent is a small, mesh, metal tube that is placed in your blood vessel on a balloon catheter. The stent expands against the vessel wall as the balloon is inflated. Once the balloon has been deflated and removed, the stent stays in place permanently, helping to keep the blood vessel open and improve blood flow.
  • Cryoplasty is a special type of angioplasty that uses a balloon filled with nitrous oxide, which cools and turns into a gas to expand the balloon. The gas gently cools the inside of the vessel, which weakens the plaque as it opens up the blockage.
  • Peripheral bypass surgery uses synthetic graft material or your own veins to improve blood flow around diseased areas.