What are the Different Vascular Disease Symptoms?

Laura M. Sands

Vascular disease symptoms most commonly affect a person’s legs and feet. In the early stages, many do not notice any unusual signs. As they do become apparent, however, individuals often report a combination of symptoms, such as pain, skin discoloration, swelling, varicose veins, numbness or a heavy feeling in the legs.

Vascular disease symptoms can include varicose veins.
Vascular disease symptoms can include varicose veins.

Also referred to as peripheral vascular disease symptoms, this condition occurs as the result of a narrowing of the blood vessels assigned to carry blood to the extremities. Such a narrowing may be caused by a variety of other issues, including an abundance of plaque in the arteries, poor circulation or a blood clot. While anyone at any age may experience symptoms of vascular disease, it most commonly affects older individuals with a history of hypertension, heart disease or diabetes.

Hair loss and a decreased pulse rate in the feet are symptoms of vascular disease.
Hair loss and a decreased pulse rate in the feet are symptoms of vascular disease.

In early stages, vascular diseases are often asymptomatic. As time progresses, however, affected individuals may begin to experience aches and pain in the legs especially after exercising. These sensations typically disappear after a period of rest, however. When the disease is at a more advanced stage, chronic pain is usually experienced, which is not relieved by rest.

Diabetics should inspect all parts of the legs and feet for sores or wounds on a regular basis.
Diabetics should inspect all parts of the legs and feet for sores or wounds on a regular basis.

Other noticeable symptoms include a lower body temperature in the legs and the feet, hair loss in these areas, as well as a decreased pulse rate in the legs and the feet. Often, people with peripheral vascular disease also develop ulcers on the feet and legs. The healing time for ulcers is also very slow due to circulatory issues.

Untreated vascular disease may lead to the development of gangrene, which may necessitate amputation.
Untreated vascular disease may lead to the development of gangrene, which may necessitate amputation.

Vascular disease symptoms also include skin discoloration in the affected areas. Often, skin will appear pale or bluish in color due to a lack of blood flow. Also, individuals with vascular disease symptoms may notice that the skin on the legs and the feet appears to shine or becomes noticeably thinner.

Without treatment, vascular disease symptoms may lead to the development of gangrene. When this occurs, skin cells begin to die. Gangrene is most common following an injury which failed to heal properly due to decreased blood circulation in the area of a wound.

As a dysfunctional circulatory system may affect any part of the body, vascular disease symptoms elsewhere in the body may include chest pain, tightness in the throat, arm pain and tissue damage. These symptoms may further lead to minor or major aneurysms, the onset of deep vein thrombosis or to a pulmonary embolism. Each of these is a potentially life-threatening condition if proper medical attention is not sought immediately.

Older people who have high blood pressure are at heightened risk for developing vascular disease.
Older people who have high blood pressure are at heightened risk for developing vascular disease.

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