While our hearts pump away, an incredibly complex system of veins and arteries is delivering blood to and from our vital organs and tissues. If it gets blocked, the consequences are life-threatening.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects almost half of all adult Americans and is a leading cause of death.1, 2 Stroke and heart disease are the two main killers of people over 45 in New York City, while heart disease is increasingly seen in patients in their 20s and 30s.3
There's plenty you can do to help prevent CVD, but if it's too late for prevention, vascular surgery and other treatments are available to you for a wide range of circulatory issues.
Vascular medicine is concerned with the arteries (which deliver blood from the heart), veins (which deliver blood to the heart), and the lymphatic system.
Since the vascular system and the heart are intrinsically interlinked, heart failure is overwhelmingly due to problems concerning the arteries.4
Coronary artery disease is one such example, affecting the arteries in the heart. It is the most common form of heart disease in the U.S.5
The coronary arteries can get blocked with a build-up of plaque, which prevents blood from delivering vital nutrients and oxygen to the heart, causing angina, and in severe cases, heart attacks or heart failure.6
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is similar to coronary artery disease and shares many of the same causes. PAD typically affects the extremities, most commonly the legs. Fatty deposits build up on the artery walls, restricting blood supply, primarily in the site of the arterial blockage, but also to the heart and brain, increasing your risk of heart failure or stroke.7
Both coronary artery disease treatment and peripheral artery disease treatment involve lifestyle changes and usually medication. Some cases require further surgical procedures. In less severe cases, patients undergo minimally invasive surgery to permanently widen the artery. More invasive bypass surgery might be necessary if the case is more severe, or if, for example, the patient has diabetes or triple-vessel disease.8
Many of the vascular conditions that cause heart failure can also cause a stroke. A stroke happens when blood supply is restricted to the brain.9
A recent study found that residents in South Bronx are over three times more likely to die prematurely of a stroke than Manhattan residents.10
Carotid arteries are the arteries that supply blood to the brain. Around 10%-20% of all strokes are caused by carotid artery disease.11 As well as lifestyle changes and medication to control your blood pressure, carotid artery surgery is also used to treat the condition, either through a minimally invasive surgery in which a small incision is made to the artery and the blockage is physically removed, or through stent surgery. The surgeon inflates the site of the blockage, and inserts a “stent” (a small coil) to keep the artery open.
Symptoms and risk factors
There are several symptoms related to PAD, including:
- Sores on your feet or legs that won't go away
- Cramping in your legs, feet, or hips
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Change of color in your legs
- Slowed growth of toenails or hair on your legs12
Coronary and carotid artery disease often don't present any symptoms in their early stages, and people are only made aware of their condition after a serious event such as a stroke or a heart attack.13
You are considered at high risk of vascular disease if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Tobacco use
- Family history of cardiovascular disease
Here at BronxDocs
If you have any of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we're here to help guide and inform you on how to best manage your risk, diagnose if you have any serious underlying conditions, and help prevent you from getting a stroke or heart attack.
We offer a wide range of treatments relating to vascular conditions including but limited to:
If you are visiting us having already suffered from a stroke or heart attack, we'll work quickly and effectively to help diagnose your problem and put together an ongoing treatment plan to help you live your life as fully and optimally as possible.
12. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Peripheral artery disease”. (2018)
13. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Coronary artery disease”. (2018), Mayo Clinic Staff. “Carotid artery disease” (2018)