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An estimated 8 to 12 million Americans have some form of vascular disease.
Vascular disease is a term for a wide range of diseases that affect the vascular, or blood vessel, systems of your body. The diseases are known by many different names, such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), atherosclerosis, or claudication.
You may have even heard these conditions referred to as "clogged pipes" or poor circulation. All of these terms refer to the ways in which your arteries or veins may not be working as well as they once did.
Causes and risks
It is often difficult to find the exact cause of vascular disease because many of the conditions are connected. It can be hard to tell what is a cause and what is a symptom.
Normal artery. In an artery free of plaque, blood can flow freely.
Artery with plaque. In an artery with plaque (fatty deposits), blood cannot flow freely. This is called peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
In general, vascular disease is caused by atherosclerosis. Fatty deposits, called plaque, collect on the inside of the artery and reduce the smooth flow of blood through the vessel. This may result in a lack of oxygen-rich blood being delivered throughout the body. Vascular disease can cause serious problems.
Risk factors for vascular disease include…
You may have vascular disease if you experience any of the following:
Some people may not have symptoms.
Tests used to find vascular disease
These tests are used to find vascular disease:
How to prevent vascular disease
Finding vascular disease early, making lifestyle changes and treating your symptoms will improve your symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. Ask your health care provider for ways to prevent vascular diseases.
Source: Allina Patient Education, Vascular Disease, cvs-ahc-14382 (03/09)
Reviewed by: Allina Patient Education experts
First Published: 09/01/2004
Last Reviewed: 03/01/2009