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Vascular Disease

Torrance Memorial provides preventative testing and procedures for unsuspected illnesses for vascular disease.

What Is Vascular Disease?

The vascular system is the body's network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart. Problems of the vascular system are common and can be serious. Arteries can become thick and stiff, a problem called atherosclerosis.

What Is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque in the arteries. This is caused by deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and other substances that build up in the inner lining of an artery over time. This fatty material thickens, hardens and may eventually block the arteries. Eventually, the plaques can make the artery narrow and less flexible, making it harder for blood to flow.

Pieces of plaque can break off and move through the affected artery to smaller blood vessels, blocking them and causing tissue damage or death (embolization). This is a common cause of heart attack and stroke. Blood clots can also form around a tear (fissure) in the plaque, leading to blocked blood flow. If the clot moves into an artery in the heart, lungs, or brain, it can cause a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism. In some cases, the atherosclerotic plaque is associated with a weakening of the wall of an artery leading to an aneurysm.


Atherosclerosis may start with damage or injury to the inner layer of an artery. The damage may be caused by:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol, often from getting too much cholesterol or saturated fats in your diet
  • Smoking and other sources of nicotine
  • Diabetes

Risk Factors

Hardening of the arteries occurs over time. In addition to simply getting older, factors that increase the risk of atherosclerosis include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • A family history of early heart disease


Atherosclerosis develops gradually. Mild atherosclerosis usually doesn't have any symptoms. Symptoms of moderate to severe atherosclerosis depend on which arteries are affected. For example:


  • Chest pain or pressure (angina)


  • Sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Drooping muscles in your face

Arms and Legs

  • Leg pain when walking (intermittent claudication)


  • You develop high blood pressure
  • Kidney failure


  • You may have difficulties having sex
  • Sometimes, atherosclerosis can cause erectile dysfunction in men
  • In women, high blood pressure can reduce blood flow to the vagina, making sex less pleasurable

How We Can Help

At Torrance Memorial Physician Network we provide preventative testing and procedures for unsuspected illness such as vascular disease.

Ankle-Brachial Index Testing

An ABI measures the blood pressure in your ankles and compares it to that in your arms. If the blood pressure is lower in your legs than in your arms, it may indicate that PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease) is restricting blood flow in your legs. The ABI test is usually the first test used to diagnose Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). The ABI can also measure the severity of an individual's atherosclerosis and can also predict the risk of future problems from atherosclerosis.

How To Schedule A Test

Please consult with your physician to schedule a testing.

All procedures are directed by the guidance of your Torrance Memorial Physician Network primary care physician.