Your vascular system is your network of blood vessels that includes your arteries and veins. When your vascular system is healthy, blood travels freely through blood vessels, carrying oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body. Any condition that affects your blood’s circulation is considered vascular disease—whether your vessels harden and narrow from a buildup of plaque, a condition called atherosclerosis, or they swell and their walls become thin and rupture. Slowed, interrupted, or decreased blood flow can reduce life expectancy by causing a host of problems, including heart attacks, stroke, ruptured blood vessels, secondary to aneurysm formation, kidney failure due to restricted blood flow, and limb loss.
Several conditions and lifestyle factors increase a person's risk, including:
- High cholesterol and lipid levels
- High blood pressure
- Family history of atherosclerosis
- Being overweight
- Sedentary (inactive) lifestyle
- High-stress lifestyle
- Over age 50 or post-menopausal (though it can occur at any age)
An estimated eight million to 15 million Americans have vascular disease, and at least half do not experience symptoms. Symptoms, such as leg pain, may be mistaken for other conditions, such as arthritis. In many cases, vascular disease has no symptoms until it results in a stroke, mini-stroke, or ruptured aneurysm.
Conditions considered vascular disease:
MedStar St. Mary's Hospital works in coordination with MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute's vascular surgery program, the largest, most experienced diagnostic and treatment center for vascular problems in the metropolitan area. Learn more.
Free Vascular Screenings
In coordination with Dare to Care, MedStar Health hosts on-going vascular screenings at the MedStar Medical Group at Charlotte Hall office every other Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. To learn more, call 410-573-9483 ext. 202.
to be referred to a vascular surgeon
at MedStar St. Mary's