Any problem affecting blood flow through the body's veins and arteries is considered to be a vascular disease. There are four main categories into which vascular disease fall: cardiovascular (heart), cerebrovascular (brain), peripheral vascular (legs) and pulmonary (lung). Symptoms of vascular disease vary depending on where blood flow is affected, and may include dizziness, shortness of breath, numbness or pain.

Vascular Disease and Symptoms

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) frequently goes undiagnosed due to the reality that only half the individuals with PVD have symptoms.  Most often the symptoms are caused by the leg muscles not getting enough blood. Whether you have symptoms depends partly on which artery is affected and to what extent blood flow is restricted. When you develop this condition, your extremities — usually your legs — don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand.


  • Pain or cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles when walking (intermittent claudication)
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
  • Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won't heal
  • A change in the color of your legs
  • Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
  • Slower growth of your toenails
  • Shiny skin on your legs
  • No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet

Having symptoms while at rest is a sign of more severe disease.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

The aorta is the largest artery in your body, running through your chest and down to your abdomen.  The abdominal aorta supplies blood to the lower part of the body.  If the aorta becomes weak, an aneurysm can form that may eventually burst or rupture.  This is a health risk, as a ruptured aorta can cause severe internal bleeding which can lead to shock or even death. 

Your risk of developing AAA increases as you age and is more common in men than women.

Risk Factors: 

  • Males older than 60 years of age
  • Having an immediate relative who has had AAA, such as a mother or brother
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking


  • Pulsing feeling in your abdomen, similar to a heartbeat
  • Severe, sudden pain in your abdomen or lower back
  • On rare occasions, your feet may develop pain, discoloration or sores

If your aneurysm bursts, you may suddenly feel intense weakness, dizziness, or pain.

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease is a serious health risk as it can cause stroke.  As you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries.  Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue.  As the plaque builds up, arteries narrow and stiffen. When enough plaque builds up to reduce or disturb blood flow through your carotid artery, you have developed carotid artery disease.

While it is not known for certain why hardening of the arteries occurs, the risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of CAD

There may not be symptoms in the early stages of carotid artery disease, and in fact your very first symptom could be a stroke.  Warning symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Feeling weakness, numbness, or a tingling sensation on one side of your body
  • Being unable to control movement of an arm or leg
  • Losing vision in one eye
  • Being unable to speak clearly or at all