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Vascular Disease explained
Vascular disease is caused by inflammation and weakness of the veins and arteries – and by the build up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels.
The accumulation of these deposits happens over a long period of time and can be virtually symptomless until the arteries and veins become so damaged, the blood flow to vital organs and muscles is compromised and causes lack of mobility, pain and tissue death.
Vascular disease is the most common precursor to coronary heart disease and heart attack, it also causes stroke by affecting the arteries in your neck.
One of the most common forms of vascular disease is peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is when the arteries in your legs are affected. It is estimated that 9% of the population suffer from PAD, which causes painful legs when walking, ulceration and amputation.
What are the risk factors of vascular disease?
The exact cause of atherosclerosis is unknown, but several risk factors accelerate the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries:
- being male
- family history of vascular disease, angina, heart attacks or stroke
- high blood pressure
- being overweight
- high cholesterol levels
- an unhealthy diet
- lack of exercise
This infogram illustrates all the risk factors - most of which you can reduce!
Vascular disease risk factors
To minimize your risks, follow our hints and tips for a healthy diet and active, healthy lifestyle online, or download a PDF for ongoing reference to help you change bad habits and improve your vascular health.
Want to know more?
We have more information on the circulatory system, ways of preventing vascular disease and we also have detailed information on specific types of vascular disease and their treatments, as listed on the left of the screen. You can view information online, email it to someone you know or download a PDF.
You can also request delivery of printed information by post, using our information order form.
The NHS Choices website is the biggest health website in the country, providing both patients and healthcare professionals with a wide range of high quality health information. NHS Choices is a certified member of the Information Standard as a producer of reliable health and social care information.
Here are some specific links vascular related topics:
NHS Choices: atherosclerosis
NHS Choices: varicose veins
NHS Choices: high cholesterol
NHS Choices: chilblains
NHS Choices: varicose eczema
Scleroderma & Raynauds UK (SRUK)
Counselling Directory is a counselling support network across the UK, enabling those in distress to find a counsellor appropriate for their needs located nearby. This is a free, confidential service that provides information to those in distress. Every counsellor on the site is registered with a professional body with recognised codes of ethics and practice or has certified qualifications.
A-Z list of information:
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Angioplasty and Stent
Aortobifemoral and Axillobifemoral Bypass
Carotid Artery Stenting
DVT - Venous Thrombosis
Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy
Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR)
Femoropopliteal & Femorodistal Bypass
Open AAA Repair Operation
Optimising your Vascular Health
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Raynaud’s & Systemic Sclerosis
Renal Angiogram and Angioplasty
The Circulatory System
Tips for an Active, Healthy Lifestyle
Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
Varicose Veins - Endovenous Laser Therapy
Varicose Veins – Injection Treatment
Varicose Veins - Operation Explained
Vascular Disease and Diabetes