Vascular Disease

Committed to improving vascular health

Novant Health’s vascular specialists in the greater Charlotte and Winston-Salem areas are leaders in treating vascular disorders with innovative procedures and an individualized approach to your specific treatment plan.

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What is vascular disease?

Vascular disease refers to any condition that interferes with how blood flows through your body's network of blood vessels. That includes vascular issues with arteries, veins, the lymphatic system and blood abnormalities. Common vascular conditions include:

  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – a narrowing or blockage of blood vessels from the heart to the legs caused by plaque. Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is the narrowing of blood vessels outside the heart and brain.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) – a blockage caused by a blood clot, usually in the legs.
  • Aneurysm – a bulge or bubble in a blood vessel.
  • Claudication - pain experienced during or after exercise due to inadequate blood flow to muscles in the leg or other limbs.

Novant Health treats these and many other vascular conditions.

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What causes vascular disease?

The risk factors for vascular disease include elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Some people are genetically predisposed to vascular disease, and those who smoke or use tobacco are at higher risk. Vascular disease can also be caused by an infection, blood clot, injury or as a side effect of certain medications.

What are symptoms of vascular disease?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of vascular disease but may include pain, cramps, numbness or tingling in the extremities, swelling, discoloration, and severe stomach pain and vomiting. If left untreated, vascular disease can lead to serious issues such as stroke, heart attack and death.

How is vascular disease diagnosed?

Diagnosis usually begins with a physical examination and a thorough medical history review. Depending on your symptoms, your physician may order blood work or imaging tests to look inside your blood vessels. These tests might include a vascular ultrasound or an angiogram, where a small catheter is inserted into an artery to look for blockages or narrowing.   

Vascular Disease Treatment

Eating a heart-healthy diet low in fat, cholesterol and sodium, exercising at least 30 minutes per day and quitting smoking can help prevent or reduce the severity of vascular disease.

Medications are prescribed to treat most patients with vascular disease. Cholesterol-lowering statins, blood pressure medicine, blood thinners and drugs that dissolve clots and help control blood sugar levels may be recommended.

Because they are less invasive, these procedures are generally done on an outpatient basis and have shorter recovery times. They are often performed by inserting a catheter into a vein so the surgeon can insert balloons, stents, lasers, and other devices to treat an area. They are often used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels.

Your vascular surgeon may recommend open surgery, which requires admission to the hospital. Open surgery can be used to remove plaque from the arteries feeding blood to your brain or legs, repair an aortic aneurysm, bypass procedures and to remove tissue.

Who treats vascular disease?

The path to vascular disease treatment may begin with an internist or primary care physician, who then refers you to a cardiologist or vascular specialist. Vascular surgeons specialize in treating vascular diseases outside of the heart or brain. Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons treat vascular issues in the heart, while neurologists and neurosurgeons focus on conditions in the brain.

Vascular surgeons

Our vascular surgeons practice a team-based approach. That often includes interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons. Many vascular surgeons are board-certified in open and endovascular surgery, and some are double-certified in general surgery.

The Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute team is nationally recognized and has a strong record of excellence in endovascular surgery. We are proud that many of our providers have been providing surgical care in their communities for 15 years or more.

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