What is a vascular specialist?

A vascular specialist is a highly trained doctor dedicated to the care of the circulatory system. That includes arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the vital organs and limbs, and veins, which return blood back to the heart.

  • Conditions that affect the arteries include aneurysms, an enlargement or bulge, and atherosclerosis, plaque that builds up inside arteries blocking blood flow.
  • Conditions that affect the veins include varicose veins and blood clots. 

Vascular specialists help patients manage these conditions through diet, exercise and medication, as well as interventional procedures. Vascular surgeons are the only doctors trained to perform minimally invasive procedures, like angioplasties, as well as traditional surgeries.

What can a vascular specialist do for you?

You should see a vascular specialist if your doctor has diagnosed you with any of the following conditions. Our team is here to help you manage and control these issues:

  • Aneurysm. An aneurysm is an enlargement of an artery. It can occur in the chest, abdomen or limbs and can be diagnosed with an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI. In some aneurysms, the wall of the artery thins and can lead to life-threatening rupture. Other aneurysms, usually found in the extremities, can clot, causing lack of circulation to the limb and possible amputation. A vascular specialist can tell you whether an aneurysm needs to be repaired or whether it is safe to monitor it.
  • Atherosclerosis of the carotid artery. Atherosclerosis is often called “hardening of the arteries.” The carotids are found in the neck and are the main route of blood supply to the brain. Sometimes, small pieces of plaque inside the artery can break off. The plaque typically won’t cause symptoms, but can be identified on an ultrasound. Our specialists can tell you if your artery is narrowed enough to require intervention, and whether that’s better done with an operation or minimally invasive procedure.
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD). With PAD, plaque in the leg arteries causes restricted blood flow. In mild cases, patients may suffer muscle pain with walking. In severe cases, PAD can cause severe foot pain, or gangrene, and you might not notice it until the pain is too much to bear. If not treated early enough, PAD can lead to surgery, even amputation. With a simple screening test, our specialists can help you spot the problem early and begin treatment.
  • Varicose veins or other vein problems. Varicose veins are unsightly. But contrary to popular belief, they also can cause health problems, including leg pain, swelling and blood clots in the leg. Additionally, they can cause ulcers on the leg that are resistant to healing. Our specialists can identify problem veins early and recommend treatment.

Talk to your doctor about a referral to Mercy Vascular Specialists. For more information, call 270-441-4300.