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Vascular Specialist in Atlanta, GA

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Within your body, there is a network of blood vessels called your vascular system. Your blood vessels are made up of veins and arteries and play a major role in keeping you healthy.
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Vascular disease is a broad term that covers any condition that impairs blood flow to your body’s organs. 

If you suspect that you may have vascular issues, schedule an appointment with the team at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in Atlanta or Marietta, Georgia. We offer innovative, non-invasive treatments for various vascular diseases and perform upper extremity surgery if needed.

What Causes Vascular Disease? 

There are many factors that cause vascular disease. The leading causes of vascular disease include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • A blood clot
  • High blood pressure

 

Other factors that can cause vascular disease include:

  • Organ or muscle damage
  • Circulation problems after shoulder surgery
  • Vascular malformations 
  • Other diseases that affect blood vessels 

 

Many causes, however, are still unknown. Knowing the root of a vascular disease makes it easier to control it.

Is Vascular Disease Common?

Yes, vascular disease is common in the United States and worldwide. However, many of those affected by it feel healthy most of their lives without ever knowing there is a problem. 

Vascular Disease Symptoms 

Vascular disease symptoms can vary in severity depending on the following circumstances: 

  • How long the problem has persisted
  • Family history/genetics
  • Personal health factors 

 

Sometimes you may have one or more symptoms, but not necessarily enough to lead to a diagnosis of vascular disease.

The symptoms of vascular disease include:

  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • A heart murmur
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath

 

All vascular disease symptoms are related to two problems:

  1. Abnormal blood flow to various body parts. 
  2. Abnormal waste disposal from different body parts into the bloodstream. 

 

A low blood flow can cause general weakness. Your hand, for example, is part of your upper extremity. If your arteries become blocked, even partially, it can reduce the amount of blood that flows to your hand. This can lead to pain, swelling around your blood vessels, and even discoloration in your fingertips. 

While vascular diseases are more common in your lower extremities, they can also develop in your upper extremities. Your radial and ulnar arteries are two major arteries that bring blood to your hands and fingers. If these arteries become blocked, your blood can be prevented from returning to your heart.

Occasionally, the onset of vascular disease is sudden and can cause life-threatening issues. If you think you are having a vascular crisis or notice signs of vascular disease, see your doctor as soon as possible.

How Are Vascular Issues Evaluated?

There are various ways a physician can help evaluate the signs of this disorder to determine if a person will develop cardiovascular problems later in life.

Ultrasound Evaluation

This is the most common test done to determine the state of a person’s vascular system. With this test, a sound wave is transmitted into the body and picked up by an ultrasound transducer to form an image of arteries and veins. 

Doctors can use these images to look for plaque buildup, vessel narrowing, blood clots, and other abnormalities that can lead to heart attack or stroke.

“Clotting Test”

Another common method is the “clotting” test. A blood sample is drawn and placed into a heparin coagulometer machine. This machine will determine the effectiveness of the blood in fighting clots. If the clotting factor levels are low, it may indicate an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Diagnostic Tests

Other diagnostic tests are also often used to identify blockages, including an electrocardiogram (ECG) and imaging scans, such as computerized tomography (CT) scans or X-rays of your blood vessels. 

These tests are more costly and may only be necessary for some people. However, in some cases, these tests may help reveal the problem earlier than other metrics. (highlight)

How Are Vascular Diseases Treated?

Treatment options for vascular issues include medications, procedures, and lifestyle changes. Medications can help prevent heart and artery problems from becoming worse or from starting in the first place. 

Treatments that have decreased the risk of plaque buildup and narrowing of arteries in some people include the following:

  • Dietary cholesterol restrictions
  • Statins such as lovastatin
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Vasodilators such as hydralazine and minoxidil
  • Alpha-blockers such as prazosin or doxazosin
  • Antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin or clopidogrel

 

All of these drugs have proven to be effective. However, they have also increased the risk of severe side effects, including cataracts and kidney failure. 

For this reason, medications are best left as a last resort for those who do not respond well to lifestyle changes or procedures.

Some common medical treatment options include:

  • Occlusive laser procedures
  • Laser treatment
  • Angioplasty
  • Stent placement
  • Stent grafting
  • Transplantation

 

If you experience any of the symptoms of vascular disease listed above, you should bring that to your specialist’s attention immediately. Be sure to schedule your appointment today.

Our team of vascular specialists at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, located in Atlanta and Marietta, are ready to help.

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD