Vascular disease affects the blood vessels that carry blood throughout your body. If you a have a problem in an artery or vein, it can affect your heart, brain, arms, legs, kidneys or other organs.

Emory Vascular Surgery Program treats many kinds of vascular conditions, including those below.

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid arteries are the main blood vessels leading to the brain. If plaque builds up from atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), that can lead to a stroke. While strokes can be fatal (they are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.), many people recover. Stroke survivors often have permanent brain damage and may have some form of paralysis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in a vein deep in the body (usually in the legs). If the blood clot breaks loose, it can be carried to the lungs. If this happens, it may block blood flow to the lungs (called pulmonary embolism), which is life-threatening.


  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Skin discoloration
  • Heat radiating from a specific area of the leg

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

PAD, also called peripheral vascular disease, happens when fatty deposits and plaque build up in your blood vessels. This buildup is called atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” Your symptoms depend on which blood vessels are narrowed or blocked.

If you have a blockage in your:

  • Vessels that supply blood to your midsection (called mesenteric ischemia), it can affect your stomach, liver, large and small intestines. This can happen suddenly (acute) or be ongoing (chronic).
  • Pelvic region (in the iliac arteries that branch off about belly button level), you may have pain, cramps for fatigue in your hips, buttocks, thighs or calves when you walk. Men may have erectile dysfunction (ED).
  • Lower legs, you may have trouble walking or get painful foot ulcers or infections.
  • If you have blockages to your arms (less common), they might feel tight, numb, heavy or weak.

Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD)

FMD is a noninflammatory artery disease that is not caused by hardened arteries (atherosclerosis). It usually involves arteries in the kidneys (renal) and neck (carotid). It’s most common in women around age 40, but can happen to anyone at any age. Most people with FMD have high blood pressure. Other symptoms include headaches and dizziness — and strokes are possible in some cases.

Aortic Aneurysms

The aorta is the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart and on to other arteries that deliver it throughout the body. Aortic aneurysms develop when a weak area of the aorta balloons or expands. Aortic aneurysms can happen in the:

  • Stomach area (abdominal aortic aneurysm)
  • Chest area (thoracic aortic aneurysm)
  • Both areas (thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm)

Abdominal Aortic (stomach) Aneurysms

These are somewhat common, but they can be life-threatening if they burst and cause severe internal bleeding.

Symptoms may include: 

  • A pulsing feeling in the abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen radiating toward the back

Thoracic Aortic (chest) Aneurysm

You may not notice any symptoms with a minor thoracic aortic aneurysm, but can also be life-threatening if it bursts and causes severe internal bleeding.

Symptoms of thoracic aortic aneurysm may include:

  • Upper chest and back pain
  • Dull pain near the breastbone or upper back

An aneurysm can grow large and rupture (burst) or dissect (split). A rupture causes dangerous bleeding inside the body. A dissection or split in one or more layers of the artery wall causes bleeding into and along the layers of the artery wall. This is almost always fatal.

Venous Stasis Ulcers

Venous stasis ulcers are chronic (ongoing) sores that usually appear around or over the ankles. They can be slow to heal, and are often painful and debilitating. If you have them, you’re not alone. About three to six million adults in the United States have venous stasis ulcers.

How venous stasis ulcers devleop

Your veins have valves, which can wear away or decay. When this happens, blood can flow backward (called reflux) and lead to high blood pressure (venous hypertension). Reflux can cause abnormal veins to grow around the ulcer, which prolongs healing. This condition cannot be cured, but your surgeon can seal off some of the abnormal veins to help your ulcers heal.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are common —about 80 million Americans have varicose and/or spider veins. Varicose veins happen when there is decreased blood flow from the leg up to the heart. They can be painful, which is why many people look for treatment. Emory Vascular Surgery treat varicose veins to help you look and feel better.

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