Vascular disease involves damage to blood vessels in the body, such as arteries and veins. Examples include narrowing or hardening of arteries (known as atherosclerosis), weakening or bulging of the vessel wall (aneurysm), or clot formation (such as deep vein thrombosis). Vascular disease is associated with heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, limb amputation, and many other serious and often life-threatening events.
What are the Risk Factors for Vascular Disease?
The risk of vascular disease increases with age. Other risk factors include:
High blood pressure
Family history of cardiovascular/heart disease
Excessive alcohol consumption
Illness or injury
Being sedentary for lengthy periods of time
How is Vascular Disease Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of vascular disease can usually be determined through symptoms, blood tests, electrical recordings of the heart, and non-invasive and invasive imaging tests. Blood tests, for example, can screen for high cholesterol and other lipid levels, markers of inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease – such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), and a range of other indicators of vascular disease. Assessment of the electrical activity of the heart using electrocardiogram can be performed at rest (laying down), during exercise (usually on a treadmill), and over several days (while wearing a portable monitor).
Imaging and catheterization also are critical in accurate diagnosis of vascular disease, including the extent of disease and identification of co-existing conditions. Non-invasive imaging with ultrasound, MRI, and CT, can be used to assess the arteries and vessels in the brain, neck, heart, lungs, abdomen, and arms and legs. These tests can also use dye or other types of contrast to provide better visualization of arteries and veins. Catheterization can be used to measure pressure inside the arteries, pinpoint exact areas of narrowing or disease, and provide minimally invasive treatment, such as placement of stents.
How is Vascular Disease Evaluated and Treated at Brigham and Women's Hospital?
Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is home to world-renowned cardiovascular specialists who have pioneered new advances in the evaluation and treatment of vascular disease. Here, cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular and endovascular surgeons, cardiovascular imaging specialists, cardiac anesthesiologists, and specialized pathologists collaborate to provide expert care for patients with vascular disease.
The Vascular Disease Prevention Program at BWH focuses on prevention of vascular disease, specializing in care for patients with abnormal lipid levels, premature atherosclerosis, a strong family history of heart disease, or difficulty tolerating or responding to lipid-lowering therapy, including statins.
Cardiovascular Care at Brigham and Women's Hospital
The Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at BWH is one of the most advanced centers of its kind in the New England region. Bringing together the full range of cardiovascular services in one building, the Center provides the technology and infrastructure to enable seamless and coordinated care for all cardiovascular patients.
Patient- and Family-focused Care
BWH has long been committed to not only the care of our patients, but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care – involving systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment – is a guiding force behind the care we provide at the Center.
Quality of Patient Care
BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and following established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our Inpatient Satisfaction Survey, sent to patients to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and where we could improve. We pride ourselves in the Quality of Patient Care we provide and how we compare with other hospitals.
If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.