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    What Is Vascular Disease?


    An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of any blood vessel. It's most often seen in the aorta, the main blood vessel leaving the heart. You can get an aortic aneurysm in your chest, where it's called thoracic, or your belly where it's called abdominal.

    Small aneurysms generally pose no threat. But they do put you at risk for other problems:

    • Plaque deposits may build up where the aneurysm is.
    • A clot may form there then break off and get stuck somewhere else, which could be very dangerous.
    • The aneurysm might get bigger and press on other organs, which causes pain.

    Because the artery wall is stretched and thinner at the spot of an aneurysm, it's fragile and could burst under stress like a balloon. The sudden rupture of an aortic aneurysm can be deadly.

    Raynaud's Phenomenon (Raynaud's Disease or Raynaud's Syndrome)

    When you're cold or excited, the small arteries of your fingers and sometimes your toes may twitch or cramp. This can temporarily shut down blood supply to the area, making your skin look white or bluish and feel cold or numb.

    The working conditions of some jobs bring on Raynaud's. Or the symptoms might be related to underlying diseases including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma.

    Buerger's Disease

    This rare disease most often affects the small and medium sized arteries and veins in your arms and legs. They swell up and may get blocked by clots, cutting off blood supply to your fingers, hands, toes, or feet. These body parts will hurt, even when you're resting. If it's severe, you might need to amputate fingers or toes that have died.

    People with Buerger's disease may also have Raynaud's phenomenon.

    Although the cause is unknown, there's a strong association with tobacco use -- including cigars and chewing tobacco -- and secondhand smoke.

    Peripheral Venous Disease and Varicose Veins

    Unlike arteries, veins have flaps inside called valves. When your muscles contract, the valves open and blood moves through the tubes. When your muscles relax, the valves close so the blood only flows in one direction.

    Damaged valves may not close completely as your muscles relax. This allows blood to flow in both directions, and it can pool.

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