A vascular disease is a condition that affects the arteries and/or veins. Most often, vascular disease affects blood flow, either by blocking or weakening blood vessels, or by damaging the valves that are found in veins. Organs and other body structures may be damaged by vascular disease as a result of decreased or completely blocked blood flow.


There are many different causes of the various types of vascular conditions and diseases. However, coronary artery disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), and peripheral arterial disease (loss of limb or use of limb) are some of the leading causes of illness and death. Since there is a potential for the occurrence of heart attacks, stroke, and loss of limb(s) to be prevented or decreased, the focus of medical management of vascular conditions information will be concentrated on these conditions.

These three vascular disease conditions (heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease) can be associated with the same cause, atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque, which is a deposit of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin in the inner lining of an artery), and are all linked to the same risk factors.


Causes of vascular disease include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Embolus/thrombus:
    A blood vessel may be blocked by an embolus (a tiny mass of debris that moves through the bloodstream) or a thrombus (a blood clot).
  • Inflammation:
    In general, inflammation of blood vessels is referred to as vasculitis, which includes a range of disorders. Inflammation may lead to narrowing and/or blockage of blood vessels.
  • Trauma/injury:
    Trauma or injury involving the blood vessels may lead to inflammation or infection, which can damage the blood vessels and lead to narrowing and/or blockage.