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An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. They can form in any blood vessel, but they occur most commonly in the aorta (aortic aneurysm) which is the main blood vessel leaving the heart. The two types of aortic aneurysm are:
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm (part of aorta in the chest)
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Small aneurysms generally pose no threat. However, one is at increased risk for:
- Atherosclerotic plaque (fat and calcium deposits) formation at the site of the aneurysm.
- A clot (thrombus) may form at the site and dislodge.
- Increase in the aneurysm size, causing it to press on other organs, causing pain.
- Aneurysm rupture -- because the artery wall thins at this spot, it is fragile and may burst under stress. A sudden rupture of an aortic aneurysm may be life threatening.
Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease
Renal artery disease is most commonly caused by atherosclerosis of the renal arteries (see above). It occurs in people with generalized vascular disease. Less often, renal artery disease can be caused by a congenital (present at birth) abnormal development of the tissue that makes up the renal arteries. This type of renal artery disease occurs in younger age groups.
Raynaud's Phenomenon (Also Called Raynaud's Disease or Raynaud's Syndrome)
Raynaud's phenomenon consists of spasms of the small arteries of the fingers and sometimes the toes, brought on by exposure to cold or excitement. Certain occupational exposures bring on Raynaud's. The episodes produce temporary lack of blood supply to the area, causing the skin to appear white or bluish and cold or numb. In some cases, the symptoms of Raynaud's may be related to underlying diseases (ie, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma).