About Mercy

Vascular Surgery

Iowa Heart Center and Mercy have a long-standing reputation of innovation and coordinated cardiovascular services to assure our patients receive world-class, patient-centered care.

We are dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment – both non-surgical and surgical – of  vascular disease. Our purpose is to provide comprehensive care to patients with disorders of the circulatory system, utilizing advanced, state-of-the-art technology and treatment in a safe, caring environment.

Common vascular procedures performed at Mercy Medical Center include:

  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Aortic surgery for aneurysmal or occlusive disease
  • Complex revascularization of the lower extremities
  • Arteriography and angioplasty
  • Stent placement
  • Dialysis access
  • Thrombolytic therapy of dialysis grafts for arterial and/or venous occlusion
  • Vertebral artery reconstruction
  • Visceral artery reconstruction
  • Thoracic outlet surgery
  • Endoscopic treatment of venous ulcerations
  • Treatment of hyperhidrosis and reflex sympathetic dystrophy

Vascular Testing, Treatment and Research

Vascular specialists use advanced technology to determine the presence and severity of the disease and offer a broad spectrum of innovative medical, interventional and surgical techniques in the treatment.

Vascular Testing

  • Non-invasive testing (blood flow and ultrasound tests)
  • CT and MRI
  • Angiography

Vascular Treatment

  • Medications
  • Endovascular, minimally invasive such as angioplasty and stents
  • Surgical interventions


Iowa Heart Center and Mercy support the investigation of new vascular disease treatments. While patients have access to the most advanced therapies available, they may also have the opportunity to participate in research studies.

Vascular Team

Vascular disorders can be complex. They involve multiple body systems, which require a team effort in order to achieve clinical excellence and service. Patients, families, primary care physicians and specialists are critical partners in providing comprehensive vascular care.

A team of primary care physicians and specialists work closely together to assure coordinated, leading-edge care. Our team includes:

  • Vascular Surgeons
  • Interventional Cardiologists
  • Interventional Radiologists
  • Podiatrists
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons
  • Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Specialists
  • Vascular Nurses

The Vascular Team at Mercy specializes in the treatment of:

  • Carotid Artery Disease
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease, including Critical Limb Salvage
  • Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
  • Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
  • Visceral Ischemic Syndromes
  • Renal Artery Stenosis
  • Vascular Trauma
  • Dialysis Access for End Stage Renal Disease
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Venous Insufficiency
  • Varicose Veins

What is Vascular Disease?

Vascular disease is a silent and often disabling or fatal condition of the arteries and veins that raises the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Vascular disease is highly prevalent—affecting millions of individuals—and is associated with decreased quality of life and a very high risk of heart attack, stroke, amputation and death. 

Vascular disease can be the result of atherosclerosis—plaque buildup and blockages—causing less blood flow through the arteries. Most people are familiar with how this plaque buildup affects the heart arteries and increases the risk of heart attack but most do not realize that it can develop in all arteries.

Arteries can also develop weakened areas causing an enlargement or bulge known as an aneurysm. The most common site for an aneurysm is in the abdominal aorta, the largest artery in the abdomen. Eventually, the aneurysm becomes so large and its wall so weak that it ruptures.

Primary Forms of Vascular Disease

  • Carotid Artery Disease

The carotid arteries in the neck supply a majority of blood to the brain. When they become blocked with plaque or a piece of plaque breaks off—known as an embolus—and travels to the brain, blood flow is blocked leading to a stroke. Stroke is Iowa’s third largest killer and a leading cause of adult disability.

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Disease (AAA)

Aneurysms are known as silent killers because the vast majority of people who have an aneurysm have no symptoms and more than 80 percent of ruptured aneurysms are fatal.  Abdominal aortic aneurysm is the 13th leading cause of death in the U.S.  

  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

More than 12 million Americans have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a disease that affects the arteries outside the heart—most commonly the legs. PAD can decrease blood flow to the legs and feet that can result in muscle fatigue and pain when walking, disability, diminished quality of life, and in its worst form, amputation. People with PAD have a two-to-six-fold increased risk of death from heart attack and stroke.

In the absence of education and detection, many high-risk individuals will not receive diagnosis prior to a disabling or fatal event.

Vascular screening is painless and non-invasive. It includes blood pressure measurements in both arms and ankles and ultrasound studies using gel and soundwaves to look at the arteries in the neck and abdomen.

Talk to your health care provider to see if you’re a candidate for a vascular screening.

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects one in 20 Americans over age 50 and raises the risk for heart attack and stroke. PAD develops when extra cholesterol and other fats circulating in the blood forms plaque in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to limbs.

PAD is commonly seen in the legs; however, it can form in arteries in the arms, head, kidneys and stomach.

People at risk for PAD are:

  • Age 50 or older
  • Smokers or former smokers
  • Diabetics
  • Likely to have high blood pressure and/or cholesterol
  • Likely to have a personal history of vascular disease, heart attack or stroke

Signs and symptoms of PAD include:

  • Claudication—fatigue, heaviness, tiredness, cramping in the leg, buttocks, thigh or calf muscles
  • Pain in the legs and/or feet
  • Sores or wounds on toes, feet or legs that heal slowly or not at all
  • Color changes in the skin, including paleness or blueness
  • Warm feeling in one leg
  • Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Nearly 2 million cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and 600,000 cases of pulmonary embolism (PE) occur each year. Complications of DVT kill more Americans than AIDS and breast cancer combined. Death can occur suddenly with little or no chance for treatment—many people die in the first hour.

DVT occurs when a blood clot forms inside a vein; it is a common, preventable and treatable condition. When blood circulation slows due to injury, illness or reduced movement, blood can gather or “pool” offering an ideal environment for clot formation and increased risk of developing DVT. Although it usually develops in the leg and can block the flow of blood through the vein, a clot can also travel to the lungs resulting in a life-threatening PE.

Often there are no signs or symptoms and they can be hard to detect. Signs may include:

  • Rapid swelling of the extremity
  • Extremity feels warm to the touch
  • Redness or discoloration of the skin
  • Unexplained pain or tenderness—usually only in one extremity—that may be present when standing or walking

DVT can occur in almost anyone, but certain people may be more at risk. Some factors that may increase your risk include:

  • Age 40 years or older
  • Surgery—especially hip, knee or abdominal surgery
  • Restricted mobility due to a long illness or surgery
  • Stroke
  • Certain heart problems
  • Cancer and its treatment
  • Personal or family history of blood clots
  • Being overweight
  • Respiratory failure
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy

Please talk with your doctor if you feel you are at risk for DVT.

(515) 247-3121
1111 6th Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50314

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