Dr. Deanna L. Nelson, a vascular surgeon with Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville, vascular disease is a systemic disease which is not cured, it’s managed.

The arteries, veins, and lymph vessels in your body make up your vascular system, and are designed to move blood, oxygen, and fluids efficiently. Any condition that impedes this system is considered vascular disease, which may range from cardiovascular disease, pulmonary artery disease, or carotid artery disease. Depending on location, blockages in the vascular system could lead to heart attacks, strokes, aneurysms, or blood clots. Dr. Nelson explains.,

A sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, as well as  obesity are the leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Evidence from many scientific studies shows that reducing these risk factors decreases the chance of having not only cardiovascular disease, but all other vascular diseases as well.


According to the American Heart Association, exercise reduces inflammation in the arteries by pumping blood through the arteries and veins, which helps them stay open and flexible. The veins in the legs are critical in that they pump blood back to the heart. During exercise, the calf muscle contracts and squeezes the veins, which aids in circulating blood to the heart.

Exercise also promotes weight loss and can reduce blood pressure and high cholesterol. Plus, regular activity helps insulin and glucose levels in the blood of patients with diabetes.


Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 1 in every 5 deaths each year and is the main preventable cause of death and illness in the United States. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body including the heart, blood vessels, and veins of the vascular system. People who smoke more commonly have aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, carotid artery disease, and heart attacks. There are support systems in your community or through your physician that offer  help to stop smoking.


According to the Circulation Foundation Organization, eating a healthy diet can reduce your chances of developing vascular disease. A balanced diet can help keep your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and also prevents against fatty deposits building up in your arteries. It can also reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. Adopt a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grain starches, and limit the amount of saturated fat, salt and sugar in your diet.


Dr. Nelson advises, “If you’ve had a blockage in one area, you may be more likely to develop one elsewhere as well, so those with vascular disease should be screened regularly and should adjust their lifestyle.” Patients with vascular diseases should be screened every 6 months to a year by a vascular surgeon, who is well equipped to manage ever changing data, processes, and procedures.

Premier Surgical Associates is the largest general and vascular surgical group in the Knoxville region—providing comprehensive surgical care for vascular disease and other specialties—with referrals from across the entire East Tennessee region. To learn more about surgical treatments for vascular disease, visit the Premier Vascular Surgery webpage.