Vascular Disease

If you have vascular disease, you want expert, effective care so you can get back to doing the activities you love. At Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, we provide you with an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible, so we can begin your treatment and help you feel better.

Our vascular medicine team collaborates with cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons and other specialists to provide you with top-notch care. We use the latest tools and technology to make your diagnosis and treatment less invasive and more effective.  

Vascular Disease: Why Choose Vanderbilt

We offer:

  • Vascular medicine expertise: Vanderbilt has the only vascular medicine program in the region. We treat a wide range of vascular diseases, including complex conditions that require careful diagnosis.
  • Collaboration: Vascular diseases can affect every area of the body. Our team works to treat the whole person. Our cardiologists, vascular medicine specialists, cardiac surgeons and vascular surgeons meet regularly to evaluate complex cases. Together, we create a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique health needs.
  • Convenience: We have multiple locations across the region. You can find expert care for the full spectrum of vascular diseases close to home.
  • Commitment to minimally invasive techniques: Our goal is to use the least invasive, most effective treatment approach to speed your recovery.

What Is Vascular Disease?

Your vascular system is made up of your arteries and veins, pathways that carry blood throughout your body. Vascular diseases, such as aortic aneurysm and varicose veins, are abnormal conditions of the blood vessels. When these diseases occur, weakened blood vessels can expand and be at risk of rupture. Damaged valves in your veins can also limit your blood flow and cause swelling.

Some vascular conditions are mild. Others can be very serious because they may damage vital organs such as your heart and brain. Explore the overview of the vascular system.

Types of Vascular Disease We Treat

We treat a wide range of vascular disorders, including:

  • Aortic aneurysm: An aortic aneurysm is a balloon-like weak spot in the aorta, your heart’s main blood vessel. If the aneurysm grows large enough, it can burst, causing internal bleeding that requires immediate medical attention.
  • Chronic venous insufficiency: When your leg veins do not allow blood to flow back up to your heart, it pools in your leg, causing varicose veins. Varicose veins can be both a cosmetic and a medical issue.
  • Venous thromboembolism: Blood clots that form in the legs are called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If a part of the clot, called an embolus, breaks off and travels to your lungs, it causes a pulmonary embolism. When that happens, it can block blood flow to the lungs, which can be life threatening. Together, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are known as venous thromboembolism.
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD): If the arteries of your legs, arms, stomach and head narrow, it can block blood flow and may put you at risk of a blood clot. This condition can raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia: This uncommon arterial disease can cause blockages, tears and bulges in the artery. 
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: A tear in one of the major coronary arteries can cause a heart attack.

Vascular Disease Tests and Diagnosis

The diagnostic tests for vascular disease depend on the specific vascular condition you have. Some common tests include:

  • Imaging tests: These include chest X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which use different techniques to create detailed pictures of your veins.
  • Ankle-brachial test: We commonly use this test to diagnose PAD. The test compares the blood pressure in your arm to the blood pressure in your ankle.
  • Blood test: We may use certain blood tests to determine how well your blood clots.

Vascular Disease Treatments

Our vascular medicine specialists and surgeons will develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs. Treatments include:

  • Medication: We are able to treat many vascular conditions with medication, which can help stop clotting and improve blood flow. We work with you to monitor the ongoing effectiveness of your medication.
  • Interventional procedures: Your doctor may choose to treat you with minimally invasive interventional techniques, resulting in smaller incisions and faster recovery. Common procedures include:
    • Endovenous laser ablation: Your doctor uses heat to destroy your varicose veins.
    • Angioplasty: Using a small incision, your doctor inserts a catheter to reach the blocked artery. Inflating a small balloon inside the artery helps clear the clog.
    • Stenting: During angioplasty, your doctor may also insert a stent, or a small cylinder made of wire mesh, to keep the artery open after angioplasty.
    • Vena cava filter implantation: Your doctor places a filter in the large vein to prevent clots from reaching the heart and lungs. 
  • Surgery: If nonsurgical techniques do not relieve your symptoms or if you have a serious condition, such as an aortic aneurysm or severe PAD, we may recommend surgery. Our experienced vascular surgeons use the latest surgical techniques to treat a variety of vascular conditions.

Vascular Disease: Patient Stories

Jessica Biggs was scared to go to sleep at night. At 32, she had her first heart attack, then a second, third and fourth within a few months. The Smith County schoolteacher couldn’t find answers about the underlying cause until she came to Vanderbilt. See her story.

Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute Locations

Our experienced team of doctors may see patients at additional locations. To find the location closest to you, call (615) 322-2318.

Columbia
Maury Regional Medical Center
1220 Trotwood Ave., Suite 401
Columbia, TN 38401
(931) 388-8622
Map and Directions

Nashville
Medical Center East
1215 21st Ave S., 5th Floor
Nashville, TN 37232
(615) 322-2318
Maps and Directions

Vascular Disease Providers