Vascular Program

Welcome to the Vascular Program at UConn’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center. At UConn Health, our experienced team of vascular specialists includes vascular surgeons, interventional radiologists and nurses. We diagnose and treat patients with peripheral artery disease. And as the only university hospital in central Connecticut, we offer our patients the advantages of the latest health care research and innovations.

Common Conditions Caused by Vascular Disease

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Aneurysms occur most often in the aorta, the main artery of the chest and abdomen. Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are caused by a progressive weakening of the aortic wall that causes dilation or "ballooning" of the vessel. The aneurysm will grow larger and eventually rupture if it is not diagnosed and treated.

Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease occurs when the major arteries in your neck become narrowed or blocked. This narrowing or blockage may lead to stroke or "brain attack."

Peripheral Artery Disease

This circulatory condition occurs when the arteries that deliver oxygenated blood from the heart to the body become narrowed.  When this happens, blood flow to your limbs is reduced, particularly to your legs.  When your legs do not receive enough blood, symptoms such as leg pain while walking can occur.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

When the section of the aorta – the body’s main blood vessel – weakens and expands in your chest, it is known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm.  The enlarged, or bulged, section of the aorta can rupture, leading to internal bleeding and possible death.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This name is given to a variety of conditions that develop when the blood vessels in the space between your collarbone and first rib are constricted, or compressed. These blood vessels serve your arms. Symptoms can include numbness or tingling in your arms or hands; pain in your neck, shoulder or hand; lack of color or discoloration (blue tinge) in your hand or fingers; and weak or easily-fatigued arms or hands.

Thoracoabdominal Aneurysm

This type of aneurysm can occur when the aorta wall weakens and expands in the area between your chest and your abdomen. If the wall bursts, life-threatening bleeding can occur. Symptoms may include dull to sharp pain in the abdomen, chest, lower back or groin.

Venous Disease
  • Varicose Veins: Varicose veins are swollen veins that you can see through your skin. They often look blue, bulging and twisted. Left untreated, varicose veins may worsen over time. Large varicose veins can cause aching and fatigue as well as skin changes like rashes, redness, and sores.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis: This is a blood clot of the deep veins. This condition can be dangerous if the clot breaks free and travels through your blood stream and lodges in your lung, heart or less commonly, your brain.
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Arteries bring blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Veins bring blood back to your heart. Your veins have valves in them to help return the blood to your heart. When these valves become weak, the blood pools in your legs causing swelling, and sometimes pain. Advanced weakening may lead to skin color changes and ulcerations.

Visceral Artery Disease

Visceral artery disease occurs when the arteries that deliver blood from the heart to the intestines, spleen and liver narrow, reducing blood flow to these locations. When blood flow is reduced to the intestines, specifically, pain after eating and weight loss can occur.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Family history
  • Age (over 50)

How Is Vascular Disease Detected?

The vascular specialist will ask you questions and perform a physical exam. In addition, non invasive tests such as CT scan, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), as well as invasive tests such as angiography, may be performed.

Treatment Options

Many people with vascular disease can be treated with lifestyle changes and/or medicines to prevent the progression of this disease. Additionally, minimally invasive endovascular intervention or interventional radiology procedures can provide alternatives to traditional surgery. Angioplasty and stenting require very small incisions which generally cause less pain and scarring and have faster recovery times. In more complicated cases, surgery may be indicated.