Vascular Disease Causes – Arterial & Venous

Venous Disease Causes

The vascular system is made up of both arteries and veins. Arteries are responsible for delivering oxygenated blood to the body and veins are responsible for returning deoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs for the blood to be reoxygenated. Both arteries and veins can be affected by diseases that vascular surgeons are trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat. So what causes these arteries and veins to become diseased? What are the actual causes of venous disease? Find out in the blog post below.

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There are some key differences to understand between arterial and venous disease, both in what type of diseases are common, the causes and treatment. 

Arterial Disease Causes

Arterial disease is caused by a narrowing of the arteries, which can slow blood flow or even prevent adequate blood flow to body tissues and organs. This narrowing can be caused by plaques from cholesterol within the artery or other sources. When an artery is narrowed, it slows or prevents tissues and organs from receiving oxygenated blood. In extreme cases, the tissue is starved of oxygen and death occurs, which is called ischemia. Arterial disease can be severe as it can lead to amputation, disability, or death.

There are multiple causes for arterial disease, with several being medical conditions.

    • High blood pressure

    • High cholesterol

    • Diabetes

    • Smoking

    • Family history

Venous Disease Causes

Venous disease is the malfunction of the valves in the vein, which allow for backflow of blood in the vein with increased pressure and accumulation of blood in the veins. This pooling can lead to clot formation or on the flip side, formation of blood clots can lead to inflammatory changes in the vessels that cause venous disease.

Venous disease has much lower risk for serious complications, unlike arterial disease. Pulmonary embolism is the most severe form of venous disease, in which a portion of the blood clot in the legs breaks off and goes directly to the lungs, which can be fatal, however this is rare.

Venous disease has different causes than that of arterial disease.

    • Family history

    • Sedentary lifestyle

    • Static standing or sitting

    • Obesity

Treatment For Vascular Disease

Treatment for both venous and arterial disease focuses on modifying specific risks and treating certain medical conditions.

  • Arterial Disease Treatment

    • Ensure appropriate blood pressure control with use of medications, diet, and exercise. 

    • Reduce cholesterol with changes in dietary habits, prescription medications, and/or over the counter supplements, such as Niacin. 

    • Control diabetes with specific prescribed medications, monitor blood sugar daily, diet, exercise, and appropriate follow up with your primary care physician or endocrinologist to ensure proper control of blood sugars. 

    • Quit smoking. 

    • Maintain an active lifestyle with a balanced and healthy diet with plenty of fresh food. 

    • Surgery is an option for those that are unable to control arterial disease with the above modalities. This may include removing plaque from the artery (called an endarterectomy), stenting to keep the artery open, or bypass to reroute blood flow from around the clogged area all together.  

  • Venous Disease Treatment

    • Maintain consistent exercise, especially with walking, biking, or swimming.

    • Change positions and move around every hour at work if sitting or standing for long periods. 

    • Eat a balanced diet and maintain an appropriate weight.    

    • Flavinoids and diasmin are supplements that may improve the tone within veins, but this should be taken lightly, as there is not much data yet to back up the effectiveness of these supplements.

    • Surgically, venous disease can be managed with vein stripping surgery, endovascular laser therapy, or sclerotherapy. All of these procedures work in different ways to remove or scar down the diseased vein.