Memorial Hermann has a history of excellence in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease. Our affiliated physicians are on the forefront of pioneering techniques and technology to identify and utilize customized treatments targeting each patient’s specific needs.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to good vascular health and that’s where our focus begins. Preventive care and modifying daily habits can go a long way toward improving vascular conditions and overall quality of life. When more intervention is needed, our affiliated physicians are highly experienced in performing a full range of treatment options, including minimally invasive procedures, and both endovascular and vascular surgical procedures.
Vascular disease is a term that describes a group of abnormal conditions of the blood vessels. The vascular system is the network of blood vessels that includes veins, arteries and capillaries that are essential for transporting blood to the different areas of the body. When there are problems moving blood through the vessels, serious disease or death can occur.
Vascular disease is very common in the United States, affecting primarily adults. Common types of vascular disease are peripheral artery disease (PAD), aortic aneurysm, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and stroke.
The most common cause of vascular disease is atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque (an accumulation of fatty substances) builds up in the walls of the arteries. This build-up causes a narrowing of the artery and reduces the amount of blood flow.
Other causes include:
Risk factors for developing vascular disease include:
PAD occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries and reduces blood flow to the arms, legs and internal organs. The legs are most commonly affected. Many patients with PAD also have plaque build-up in the vessels that supply blood to the heart and brain.
The carotid arteries are blood vessels located on either side of the neck that transport blood to the brain. Carotid artery disease (also called carotid artery stenosis) occurs when plaque builds up (atherosclerosis) in the arteries and reduces blood supply to the brain, increasing the risk of stroke.
The aorta is the largest artery in the body and it provides blood to all organs. The aorta has two parts: the thoracic aorta is the portion that runs through the chest, and the abdominal aorta is the portion that runs through the abdomen.
An aortic aneurysm is a "ballooning" in a weak spot in the wall of the aorta that can lead to rupture or dissection. An aneurysm occurs when part of an artery wall weakens, and then expands. An aneurysm can occur anywhere in the aorta. There are three types of aortic aneurysm:
Abnormal conditions of the veins are called venous disease. Veins move blood through the body, toward the heart, when valves contract and expand. The opening and closing of the valves keeps the blood flowing in the correct direction. If the valves are damaged from venous disease, the opening and closing motion does not work properly and blood flow is disrupted.
Common types of venous disease include:
Vasculitis is a group of rare diseases involving inflammation in the walls of blood vessels. The inflammation can affect arteries, veins or capillaries anywhere in the body, and results in a narrowing of the blood vessel which limits the amount of blood flow.
A chronic swelling condition caused by excess lymphatic fluid in the soft tissues. Lymphedema usually occurs in the arms or legs and is most often seen in patients who have been treated for cancer.
Your physician will recommend a treatment plan based on the specific type of vascular disease and the severity of the condition. Some treatment options include:
Making healthy lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on vascular health. You can greatly reduce your risk of developing vascular disease by taking these steps:
Medicines that help control diabetes, lower blood pressure, or lower cholesterol levels can help reduce the risk of developing vascular disease or slow its progression. Blood-thinning medications may also be used for the treatment of some vascular diseases.
When lifestyle changes and/or medication are not enough to control vascular disease, your physician may recommend a non-surgical procedure.
Angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a minimally invasive procedure to open blocked arteries that slow or block blood flow. A deflated balloon attached to a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel through an incision, usually in the arm or groin, and guided through the blood vessel and into the blocked artery. The balloon is inflated which compresses some of the plaque against the wall of the artery. Frequently, a stent (wire mesh tube) may be left in the artery to support the arterial walls after the balloon is removed.
Atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that removes plaque to make an artery wider, which allows better blood flow. Physicians use catheters with specialized blades or lasers to reach the clogged artery and grind away the plaque.
An alternative to traditional open surgery, endovascular surgery is an innovative, less-invasive procedure that offers advantages such as smaller incisions, shorter hospital stay, less pain and a quicker return to normal activities.
Endovascular surgery is a good option for patients who need a surgical procedure, but who are at an increased risk of complications from traditional open surgery. The process can be used to treat carotid artery disease, aortic aneurysms and other vascular diseases.
Memorial Hermann offers transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR), an innovative, minimally invasive treatment for patients at risk of stroke due to blockages in the neck arteries (carotid arteries). TCAR is an alternative to traditional open surgery that may be too risky for some patients.
During the TCAR procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision above the collarbone and inserts a stent into the carotid artery. While under general anesthesia, the patient’s blood flow is temporarily reversed to flow away from the brain in that area which protects it from bits of plaque that may dislodge during the procedure. This reduces the risk of stroke. Once the stent is in place to keep the carotid artery open, normal blood flow is restored.
Endovascular abdominal aneurysm repair (EVAR) is a minimally invasive procedure to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). During the procedure, the surgeon makes small incisions in the groin and threads catheter tubes through the femoral artery (located in the thigh) and into the aorta. A fabric covered metal stent is inserted and guided through the artery to the affected area. The stent is then inserted into to the weakened portion of the artery, and it will remain there indefinitely. This will relieve pressure on the artery to prevent rupture.
This type of traditional, open surgery corrects problems with blood vessels that are narrowed, blocked or dilated. Vascular surgery includes treatment of all vessels outside the heart and brain. In most procedures, a bypass graft replaces the damaged portion of the blood vessel to reroute the blood flow around the blocked or narrowed area.
The TAAA repair procedure removes a weakened section of the aorta and replaces it with a fabric tubed called a graft.
This is one of the most complex vascular surgical procedures and requires a team of highly skilled and experienced surgeons. TAAA repair carries substantial risks, including paralysis. The surgical methods used at Memorial Hermann have resulted in a significant reduction of these risks.
To learn more about treatment options, our cardiologists, or treatment facilities please use our contact form or schedule an appointment with a Memorial Hermann Cardiologist online »
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