Diseases of arteries and veins
Diseases of arteries and veins
Diseases of the arteries and veins are very common mainly in the developed world. They affect both men and women and both elder and younger individuals. Some of them are the basis of other more serious diseases.
Function of arteries and veins
Arteries and veins, collectively known as the blood vessels, perform in our body an indispensable role, and that is the transport of blood. Arteries and veins form a closed system of tubes that branch out from larger to the smallest tubes. The smallest blood vessels in the body are called capillaries, which are formed at the terminal branches of arterioles, and from which oxygen and nutrients pass in to the tissues and cells. The capillaries then connect to venules that join the veins that lead blood deprived of oxygen and nutrients to the right side of the heart. From here de-oxygenated blood enters the lungs. It is very important that the blood flows through arteries and veins smoothly and in sufficient quantities. If this is not possible for some reason, we are dealing with a vascular disease, i.e. disease of arteries and veins. Most of these diseases are rare, except for two diseases, namely atherosclerosis and varicose veins that occur very often.
Diseases of arteries
Artery diseases represent a large group where individual diseases are the result of other ongoing diseases, or vice versa artery diseases lead to the development of serious conditions. Artery diseases include many rare diseases, but also some more frequent such as atherosclerosis, aneurysm or aortic dissection.
Atherosclerosis involves changes in the vessel wall, which changes its diameter and is therefore considered as the cause of many other diseases. Atherosclerosis develops in virtually every individual from birth, so it is a question if we can talk about it as a disease. If yes, then it certainly is a chronic disease in which there is a deposition of fatty substances in the inner walls of the arteries. This leads to the narrowing of their diameter, impaired blood circulation in organs and in the most serious cases, to their full blockage. In this case ischemia occurs, i.e. local anemia of a tissue. This is how myocardial infarction or stroke occurs. Atherosclerosis is diagnosed by Doppler ultrasound or X-ray. It is treated with balloon angioplasty, a surgical procedure where a balloon catheter is introduced into the affected artery and by inflating the blood vessel it expands or is reinforced by a metal mesh, called a stent.
Aortic aneurysm, or a bulge, is a sac-like extension that occurs most frequently in the area of the abdominal aorta. It is a result of a weakened arterial wall. Aneurysm occurs most frequently on the basis of atherosclerosis and occurs more frequently in men. The bulge mostly does not do anything, but we can find it by palpation of the abdomen as a pulsating object. In the case of aneurysm rupture, severe pain and major bleeding occurs, which is usually fatal to the patient. Aneurysms can be detected by abdominal CT or ultrasound. The only effective treatment for aortic aneurysm is surgery.
Aortic dissection is a tear mostly in the ascending part of the aorta from the heart. This creates a sac where blood accumulates. The dissection can progress and spread over the aorta up to its branches. The blood has a tendency to flow back in to the interior of the blood vessel, what is preferable. If it flows outside this leads to the patient's death. It is not entirely clear how the tear in the wall of the blood vessels occurs, but it has been found out that the majority of patients with aortic dissection suffer from hypertension, i.e. high blood pressure. The dissection is manifested by strong severe pain behind the sternum and may resemble myocardial infarction. In the diagnosis it is therefore necessary to distinguish these two different states. Treatment consists of administration of drugs to reduce high pressure and surgical reconstruction of the aorta.
Diseases of veins
Diseases of veins affect more and more young individuals. This is mainly due to lifestyle, lack of exercise and bad nutrition. The most common diseases of veins are venous thrombosis, varicose veins and inflammation of the veins.
Venous thrombosis is a condition that arises as a result of coagulation disorders or deceleration of blood flow in the veins. It most commonly affects the deep veins of the lower extremities, where the blood clots form and clog the blood vessels. This causes swelling, redness and pain. Deep vein thrombosis is dangerous due to the possibility that the clot enters the pulmonary artery or its branches, where it can get stuck and cause pulmonary embolism. More prone to venous thrombosis are pregnant women, women taking hormonal contraception or people sitting too long during traveling.
Varicose veins are twisted, elongated, weakened veins in which blood can not flow and thus leading to blood accumulation. This results in thrombi formation, i.e. blood clots. This disease mostly affects the veins of the lower limbs. Varicose veins are formed due to the weakening of the venous wall and the increased intraluminal pressure, i.e. the pressure inside the vein. It increases also due to valve malfunction, which are present in the lower extremities. Mostly it is a disease occurring in later age. An earlier onset may have, for example, pregnant women or people with a family history. An effective treatment of varicose veins is surgery.
Inflammation of the veins
Inflammation of the veins or phlebitis is a disease that mainly affects the superficial veins of the lower extremities. Phlebitis occurs mostly in the area of varicose veins, due to the accumulation of blood. Phlebitis is manifested by a painful, reddish and warm stripe that follows the course of the vessel. The vein affected by inflammation is also hard on palpation. Phlebitis may also occur after an injection into the vein. Sometimes the patient may also have high temperature. If the pain occurs in another location than the affected vein, or there is an onset of swelling, it is necessary to consider the risk of pulmonary embolism. In this case, it is absolutely necessary to visit a doctor immediately, or better a vascular surgery clinic. For the therapy it is necessary to wear compression stockings and avoid walking. Cold compresses and ointments with heparin are applied on the veins affected by inflammation.
Prevention of diseases of the arteries and veins
The onset and development of diseases of the arteries and veins can be largely prevented. It is important to follow a proper diet and limit potential risk factors, which include high blood pressure, excessive fat intake, smoking, and diabetes. Recommended is also sufficient physical activity.