Published on July 08, 2019

Vascular disease: The right treatments at the right place

If you’re diagnosed with vascular disease, it’s good to know you don’t have to travel any farther than Nazareth Hospital to be treated.

“We have two board-certified, fellowship-trained vascular surgeons on staff,” says Edward O’Dell, DO, Chief Medical Officer at Nazareth Hospital.

Narrowed arteries need treatment

Vascular disease affects the blood vessels. It occurs when cholesterol builds up and forms plaque in the arteries. Plaque narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood and oxygen to flow freely.

Plaque primarily occurs in the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet, as well as blood vessels in the neck that supply the brain.

“But the reality of the disease is that it can affect any artery in the body,” Dr. O’Dell says.

When vascular disease involves the carotid arteries in the neck, it raises the risk for stroke. When the disease affects the arteries supplying blood to the lower limbs, it can lead to non-healing wounds, infections and even amputations.

It’s best to diagnose vascular disease in its early stages. That’s when it can be treated with medications, like cholesterol-lowering statins or blood-thinning aspirin.

“More commonly, however, vascular disease requires surgical intervention,” Dr. O’Dell says.

Surgery can involve placing stents in blood vessels to keep them open for blood flow. Or it can involve procedures to bypass the blocked portion of an artery.

When to see a doctor

It’s important to see a doctor if you have signs or symptoms that might signal vascular disease, such as:

  • Leg pain, especially with exertion that is relieved by rest.
  • Non-healing wounds, “such as a cut on your foot that turns into an ulcer,” Dr. O’Dell says.
  • Dizziness, slurred speech or weakness. These can be signs of a transient ischemic attack, known as a warning stroke.