The average human heart pumps roughly 2,000 gallons of blood per day through an intricate network of arteries, veins and capillaries that help make up the cardiovascular system. Through these blood vessels this organ system transports nutrients, oxygen and hormones as well as waste to and from cells throughout the body.
In fact, a human body has nearly 100,000 miles of blood vessels. By definition, vascular disease is an abnormal condition of blood vessels. Because blood vessels travel the entire body, vascular disease can present itself anywhere and cause serious problems that may even be fatal.
What is Vascular Disease?
There are dozens of vascular diseases, but some of the most common are Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) and stroke, which account for 140,000 deaths each year.
According to Dr. John Fry, of the Heart and Vascular Center at Watauga Medical Center, “Vascular disease affects approximately 10% of Americans with almost half of those being asymptomatic.”
Fry says the most common symptoms are:
- Pain in the legs or feet
- Cool shiny skin
- Lack of hair growth
- Sores or ulcers that are slow to heal
- Redness or discoloration
- Hip pain
- Impotence or ED (men)
Although vascular diseases may strike without warning, according to Dr. Fry, “the same risk factors associated with heart disease are also important with vascular disease and include poor diet, lack of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and most importantly tobacco smoking.”
There are also risk factors for vascular diseases that cannot be changed like age and genetics. For patients experiencing symptoms or who are concerned they may be at risk for a vascular disease, Dr. Fry advises talking to their provider or calling the Heart and Vascular Center for more information and consultation.
Fry says, “the diagnosis can be confirmed most often using simple non-invasive tests. We have those available at Watauga Medical Center. Treatment can be as easy as lifestyle changes and medication. For others, simple outpatient, minimally-invasive techniques are available.”
Vascular Services in the High Country
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System offers several options for Vascular Services in the High Country. Vascular Services are available through the Heart and Vascular Center; Vein Services and Wound Care Services at Watauga Surgical Group; and The Rehabilitation Center. Some of these treatments include:
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Treatment
- Peripheral Vascular Stenting
- Peripheral Vascular Angioplasty
- Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI)
- Varicose Veins
- Vascular Surgery
- Chronic Disease Wellness
- Nutritional Counseling
- Wound Care Services
- Edema Management
- Physical and Occupational Therapy
For more information about the Vascular Services offered through Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit apprhs.org/heart or call:
- Heart and Vascular Center at 828-264-9664
- Vein Services at Watauga Surgical Group at 828-264-2340