Traumatic Effects to Vascular Health

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Overcoming life-threatening injuries


When looking at the various explanations behind what causes vascular conditions to arise, trauma tends to be one of the most common. Because trauma is not only easy to develop, but has the ability to be brought on through a multitude of settings and situations, it has a natural place among the long list of vascular conditions. We hear the word on a regular basis, and use it to describe particularly distressing situations. (“That was traumatic!” “I was shocked and traumatized!”) However, the importance still rests on knowing how trauma occurs, and what short and long-term effects it can have on our vascular health.

Trauma, in the medical sense, is usually split into two categories: Major trauma and psychological trauma. The former relates to an injury where disability or death is a possibility, while the latter is more of a focus on damage to the psyche by means of an upsetting incident.  Major trauma is what can result in damage to the vascular system, depending on the area where the injury takes place, as well as its severity. Major trauma can occur in many different ways, including wounds by gunshot, car accidents, stabbing, or falls. Whenever an instance of trauma occurs, regardless of the severity, medical attention from a trauma center should be immediately sought out in order to assess the victims' injuries.

Two Variations

Blunt and penetrating trauma can both be responsible for complications associated with vascular health – blunt trauma refers to injury caused by direct impact, while penetrating trauma is an injury where the object impales and enters the body, resulting in an open wound. Blast injury is the combination of these two types of trauma, and is usually also accompanied by a burn injury.

Diagnosis

In instances of trauma, diagnosis of the injury is typically done through one of two processes. Physical examination is done in instances of life or death injuries, with an initial examination done to identify the problem, and a second examination to systemically assess if the injury affected other areas of the body, such as the abdominal, pelvic, and thoracic regions. Imaging processes may also be used to identify the severity of the injury – x-rays are often used for examining the chest and pelvic regions, and focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) can be used to check internal bleeding, depending on the mechanism and presentation of injury. Additionally, surgical techniques can be used in cases of chest or abdominal trauma, specifically when victims are affected by shock.

Trauma & Vascular Health

Vascular trauma occurs when a blood vessel is injured through either instance, be it blunt or penetrating. For both abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysm, trauma is listed as a possible cause for development. For both the abdominal and thoracic regions, when blunt trauma occurs, aneurysms may be produced by collisions that do not produce rib fracture or bruising of the chest wall. In many instances, automobile accidents cause this phenomenon, either to the driver when making contact with the steering wheel or dashboard during a crash, or a pedestrian being struck by a moving vehicle.

Deep venous thrombosis, a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in the legs’ deep vein system, can also be a result of trauma. When an incident occurs, the inner lining of a vein can become damaged due to a multitude of factors, including immune responses, inflammation, surgery or serious blunt force injuries. Additionally, mesenteric venous thrombosis, a condition where a clot blocks blood flow to a mesenteric vein (the veins where un-oxygenated blood leaves the intestine) has the same potential to be caused by trauma to the abdomen. When blunt trauma occurs to the abdominal region through many of the same causes, the mesenteric veins’ inner lining can become damaged as a result, causing irregular blood clotting.


While the types and severity of trauma often differ depending on the incident and condition where injuries were brought on, it’s still important to recognize how specific types of traumatic injuries can affect vascular health. Though there isn’t one single solution to dealing with the major effects of injuries, there are many options that can help patients overcome their particular condition, and attempt to find normalcy in their daily life once again.