The common vascular problems are caused by a slow and gradual thickening of the arteries, sometimes referred to as "furring up"; "hardening" or "clogging" up of the arteries. The technical name for this is atherosclerosis. Certain arteries become less flexible, they lose their elasticity over time. This makes them less able to withstand the pressure of the pulse generated by the heart. They can slowly stretch, like a worn out tyre / inner tube, and this leads to a dilated artery we call an aneurysm. Both these changes in our arteries are linked to certain lifestyle and medical factors which make vascular disease more likely.
The most important actions you can take to reduce your risk of vascular disease or prevent it getting worse are : -
1. If you smoke - IT IS VITAL THAT YOU STOP SMOKING. This can be difficult. Your GP should be able to help with local resources and aids to reduce craving, and support you whilst you reduce and stop. Action on Smoking is also a good place to get help and information.
2. Regular EXERCISE - This does not have to be strenuous, regular daily walking will be of benefit. Swimming, cycling, and running are other common forms of exercise used to stay healthy. If you have a medical condition you should agree your exercise plan with your GP. Some gyms will be able to supervise an exercise programme for you. For more information on exercise click HERE
3. DIET. For advice on a healthy diet click HERE.
4. WEIGHT. Your diet and the amount of exercise you take will influence your weight. It is important to control your weight and keep it in the range advised by your GP. We often use body mass index (BMI) to estimate the ideal weight for a person. A normal BMI lies between 18 - 25. You can calculate your BMI here
5. OTHER CONDITIONS There are medical conditions which increase the risk of vascular disease. High blood pressure, raised cholesterol and diabetes are the commonest. These should be monitored and treated by your doctor. They are all influenced by your lifestyle, so the above measures will also help in the treatment of these conditions in addition to the measures or medications given to you by your doctor.
6. ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION.
If you drink alcohol, do not exceed recommended limits (14 units a week for men and women). A unit of alcohol is roughly half a pint of normal-strength lager or a single measure (25ml) of spirits. Regularly exceeding recommended alcohol limits can raise your blood pressure and cholesterol level, which can cause your blood vessels to become damaged or narrowed.
Contact your GP if you find it difficult to moderate your drinking. Counselling services and medication can help you reduce your alcohol intake. For more information click HERE