Vascular Doctor

A vascular doctor is an expert in diagnosing and treating issues that affect your arteries and veins. Although many people don’t need surgery for their blood vessel problem, a vascular doctor can perform many kinds of procedures or operations. Your treatment may consist of lifestyle changes and medicine, depending on what’s wrong.

What is a vascular doctor?

A vascular doctor is a healthcare provider who takes care of your vascular system, or blood vessels. Your vascular system includes arteries, veins and the tiny capillaries that connect them.

Arteries carry oxygen and nutrients in your blood. Blood in your arteries flows away from your heart and out to all of your body’s tissues, supplying them with what they need.

Veins take your blood back to your heart after your cells have taken what they need from it. They carry waste like carbon dioxide back to your heart. From there, blood goes to your lungs, which allow you to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

Vascular doctors can work with you on a long-term basis to manage your vascular disease. Also, they can provide treatment for your specific problem and work with other healthcare providers on your team.

Types of vascular doctors

Examples of vascular doctors include:

  • Vascular surgeon.
  • Endovascular surgeon.
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD) specialist.
  • Vein specialist.

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What does a vascular doctor do?

A vascular doctor prevents, diagnoses and treats diseases that happen in your blood vessels. These are the arteries and veins that bring nutrients into and waste out of your body’s many cells and tissues. Because your body needs oxygen and nutrients all the time, healthy blood vessels are important.

Vascular doctors help people with some of the most common — and sometimes deadly — diseases in the United States, such as:

What treatments can a vascular doctor offer?

Treatments a vascular doctor provides depend on which condition you have. Treatments include:

  • Recommended changes to how much you exercise and what you eat.
  • Medicines that can bring your blood pressure or cholesterol down or prevent blood clots.
  • Medical procedures that help improve your blood flow.
  • Operations that can prevent a stroke or an aortic aneurysm rupture.

When to see a vascular doctor

You might need to see a vascular doctor if you’re at high risk of vascular disease because of your diabetes, high blood pressure and use of tobacco products. Also, you might have symptoms of a vascular disease, such as chest pain during exercise or leg pain, cramping or swelling.

If you’re in the hospital because of an untreated vascular problem, a vascular doctor can help you.

A vascular doctor has the expertise to do everything from minimally invasive procedures to complex surgeries. After completing medical school, a vascular surgeon spends another five to seven years training for the vascular specialty.


What diseases do vascular doctors treat or help you prevent?

Vascular doctors can treat these issues:

What kind of tests does a vascular doctor do?

A vascular doctor may order tests to check your blood vessel health, such as:


What kind of doctor treats vascular problems?

A vascular doctor, vascular specialist or vascular surgeon treats vascular problems. They treat a wide range of issues that involve your arteries and veins, such as blocked or narrow blood vessels.

Is a cardiologist the same as a vascular doctor?

No. A cardiologist specializes in treating your heart. A vascular doctor treats your blood vessels throughout your body, including your aorta, a very large artery that sends oxygen-rich blood to your body. However, a vascular doctor doesn’t treat the heart itself.

Do I need a referral to see a vascular doctor?

Depending on your insurance, you may need to get a referral from your family doctor to see a vascular doctor. Your primary care provider might want you to see a vascular doctor if you have symptoms of a vascular disease.

What to expect at a vascular doctor appointment

A vascular doctor will do a physical exam and talk with you about the symptoms you’re having. Be sure to tell them about everything you think is related to the reason for your visit. You’ll need to answer questions about your own medical history, as well as that of your family. You can have a higher risk of some vascular issues if a relative had them.

Your vascular doctor may ask you to get a blood test or some type of imaging test that will help them figure out the problem you’re having. Test results can help them decide the best way to fix your issue.

Where do vascular doctors work?

Vascular doctors work in hospitals and private practice offices. Also, they work in healthcare centers that specialize in one area of vascular medicine, such as veins.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A vascular doctor is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arteries and veins. They can help you with a variety of issues that affect your blood vessels. Your family doctor can recommend a vascular doctor to help you with your specific issue. Your vascular doctor should be able to work with your primary provider when planning your treatment. Following their advice and treatment plan will give you the best chance for a good outcome. Because some vascular issues last a long time, your vascular doctor may be a long-term healthcare provider for you.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/27/2022.

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