The circulatory and nervous systems are the most critical among all body systems as they manage or sustain other body systems.
The circulatory system, also called vascular system, is made up of a large and intricate network of blood vessels of different sizes. The arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to every cell and tissue of the body through tiny capillaries. The veins take away the impure blood from the capillaries back to the lungs for oxygenation. The capillaries are where the actual exchange of gases, nutrients and wastes, between the blood and tissues, happen.
Like any other body system, the circulatory system is also prone to malfunction and disease. These are broadly called vascular diseases. When one suffers from a vascular disease, the blood flow is affected either by a blockage in, or weakening of one or more blood vessels; or damage to one of the valves that regulate blood flow. Such a condition can develop in either an artery or vein. Because of the reduced blood flow, various organs of the body do not get enough oxygen which in turn damages the organs and leads to various complications, creating medical emergencies for the person.
In addition to transporting oxygen, blood vessels are responsible for supplying various organs and tissues of the body with nutrients, removing waste products, fluid balance, and certain other functions. Any condition that affects the vascular system will automatically affect the organs or parts of the body served by it.
- Injury: Accidents and trauma can injure blood vessels leading to various conditions such as inflammation, infection, narrowing and blockage.
- Blood clots. A blood clot (called thrombus) or an embolus (a clump of blood cells and other debris) may move develop and block the blood vessel.
- Vasculitis: In this condition, there is inflammation of blood vessels which can lead to narrowing and blockage of blood vessels.
- Atherosclerosis: A high-fat diet can cause a build-up of ‘plaque’ (made up of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin) in the inner lining of an artery. This thickens over time, gradually narrowing the artery and restricting blood flow.
Also Read: How do you identify Peripheral Artery Disease?
Complications from Vascular diseases
- Coronary artery disease (CAD): Symptoms include heart attack, angina (chest pain) and dyspnoea (shortness of breath).
- Cerebrovascular disease: Symptoms include stroke and a transient ischemic attack, which is a sudden or temporary loss of blood flow to a part of the brain.
- Peripheral arterial disease: Symptoms include pain in the thigh, calf, and/or buttocks while walking)
- Aorta related: The aorta supplies oxygenated blood to the rest of the body, from the heart. When a part of the aortic wall weakens over time, it can develop a balloon like swelling or bulge called an ‘aneurysm’. The aneurysm can develop in any part of the aorta, right from the aortic arch up to its terminating point. Accordingly, there are thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms. Coarctation of the aorta is a condition in which the aorta starts narrowing down. Takayasu arteritis is a rare inflammatory disease that affects the aorta and its branches.
- Peripheral venous diseases: Deep vein thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot develops in a deep vein located within the muscles of the leg. Varicose Veins is a condition in which veins of the legs get enlarged, swollen or twisted leading to reduced blood flow and superficial blood clots.
- Lymphatic vascular diseases: The vascular system is supported in its function by the lymphatic system. Lymphedema is a swelling caused when the normal drainage pattern in the lymphatic channels gets interrupted.
- Vascular diseases of the lungs: Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is an uncommon disease in which blood vessels in the lungs get inflamed. Angiitis is an inflammation of blood vessels in the lungs. Hypertensive pulmonary vascular disease is a condition where there is high blood pressure in the lungs due to vascular conditions.
- Vascular diseases of the kidneys: Renal artery stenosis is a condition in which the renal artery gets blocked. Fibromuscular dysplasia is a condition in which walls of mid-sized arteries get weakened.
- Vascular diseases of the Genitourinary system: Examples include erectile dysfunction or impotence.
- Genetic: People with a family history of vascular conditions are more prone to vascular diseases.
- Hypertension: High blood pressure can damage or weaken the aortic walls.
- Infection in the aorta: Sometimes a bacteria or fungal infection can cause aneurysms or swelling in the abdominal aorta.
- Smoking: The use of tobacco in any form is a major risk factor for developing both aortic as well as peripheral arterial disease. The latter is more common, which may lead to loss of a leg from gangrene. Aortic aneurysm can develop, with the risk of an eventual rupture. Heavy smoking is also a risk factor for erectile dysfunction.
- Age: People who are 65 years and older are at higher risk of aortic aneurysms.
- Gender: Men are at higher risk of developing abdominal aortic aneurysms than women.
- Race: White Caucasians are at higher risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms than other races
Also Read: Treatment for Varicose Veins – Sclerotherapy
Diagnosis and Treatment
Vascular diseases and complications resulting from them display a wide range of symptoms. Patients seeking emergency help will undergo various tests to pinpoint the exact cause of the condition. Subsequently a vascular surgeon working in collaboration with other specialists will prescribe the most-effective course of treatment. Treatment options include surgery and/or medication followed by rehabilitation for a smooth return to normal life.
Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Karaikudi, Hosur and Salem, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.
Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Karaikudi – 04565 244555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777