Some vascular diseases are indeed hereditary. Many of these diseases appear in infancy or childhood. One of them is Milroy’s disease. This disease causes lymphedema in the patient’s legs. This is a type of swelling that occurs when fluid builds up due to an insufficient lymphatic system.
Other types of hereditary vascular diseases are hemangiomas. These are tangles of blood vessels that appear in the person’s skin or even in their internal organs. It can be a red or magenta colored lesion on the skin or a tumor that seems to be filled with blood. Many hemangiomas appear at birth or shortly after. The ones that appear on the skin often show up on the neck or the face. In many cases, the hemangioma goes away on its own. If it does not and is very unsightly, it can be removed by lasers or injections of steroids.
Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia
In this disease, arteries and veins connect directly. Usually, veins and arteries are connected by tiny veins called capillaries. This disorder causes red markings called telangiectasia to appear on the skin. This happens because the blood is pumped at high pressure directly from the arteries into the veins, which causes them to dilate and leak. In severe cases of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, the patient suffers from frequent nosebleeds and is at risk for bleeds into their brain or other vital organs.
There are four types of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. They are types 1, 2, 3 and a kind called juvenile polyposis/hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia syndrome. Type 1 presents earlier than type 2 and the vascular malformations are more likely to be found in the patient’s brain or lungs. The malformations are more likely to be found in the liver in types 2 or 3. In juvenile polyposis/hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia syndrome, the person also develops polyps in the intestine as well as the malformed blood vessels.
Marfan’s syndrome affects the patient’s connective tissue as well as their vascular system. These patients have a higher risk for an aortic aneurysm, which is a bulge in the main artery of the body. If this bulge bursts, it can kill the patient. Because of this tendency to develop aneurysms, Marfan’s syndrome patients need to be monitored carefully by their physicians.
People with this disorder have abnormal arteries. The cells that line the arteries do not develop normally, and they cause the arteries to bulge or be too narrow. The condition is often seen in the carotid arteries, which are found in the neck and supply the brain with blood. The abnormality can also be found in the arteries in the brain itself as well as arteries in the kidney. The disease puts the patient at increased risk for stroke.