Vascular disease refers to a group of conditions that affect your blood vessels. Examples include varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, Reynaud’s disease, and carotid artery disease. Although vascular diseases are common, some of them can be quite serious.
Untreated vascular diseases can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease (PAD). Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to protect yourself against vascular disease.
Here’s a closer look at the five key strategies that can help safeguard your vascular health and promote overall well-being, courtesy of our team of board-certified, fellowship-trained vascular surgeons at Vascular Specialists.
1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is paramount in preventing many different types of disease, including vascular diseases. Here are some key components to focus on:
Any diet that’s good for your heart is good for your vascular system. The American Heart Association recommends following a diet that’s rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish, and healthy fats. Avoid refined or heavily processed foods, highly salted foods, and excess sugar.
Additionally, focus on nutrient-dense foods full of antioxidants, such as berries, leafy greens, and nuts, as they help combat inflammation and oxidative stress.
Engage in regular physical activity to promote cardiovascular fitness and improve circulation. Aim for at least five 30-minute exercise sessions per week, such as brisk walking or cycling. Add in a few strength training exercises to build muscle and support your overall vascular health.
Because excess weight can strain the cardiovascular system and increase your risk of vascular diseases, losing weight (if needed) and maintaining a healthy weight go a long way in protecting against several types of vascular disease.
2. Stop smoking
Smoking is notorious for the damage it does to your lungs, but it’s equally dangerous for your vascular system. Smoking can:
- Damage your blood vessels
- Increase your risk of blood clots
- Contribute to higher blood pressure readings
- Cause plaque formations
- Increase your risk of developing PAD and having a stroke or heart attack
If you're currently a smoker, quitting is the single most effective step you can take to protect your vascular health. Both Indiana and Illinois have free smoking cessation programs, and our team can also help you get started on your journey to quitting. If you don’t currently smoke, don’t start.
3. Control blood pressure and cholesterol
High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels contribute to many types of vascular disease. Implement these measures to keep them in check:
Have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly, and take necessary steps to keep these numbers within a healthy range. This may include lifestyle modifications, such as reducing sodium intake, regular exercise, stress management, and, if necessary, prescription medication.
4. Manage diabetes
Because high blood sugar can damage your blood vessels, uncontrolled diabetes increases your risk of vascular disease. Diet, exercise, medication (either oral medication or insulin injections), and regular monitoring of your blood sugar levels are essential for protecting yourself against vascular disease.
5. Practice good stress management
Chronic stress can contribute to vascular disease by increasing blood pressure and promoting unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as stress eating, smoking, and drinking excessively. Incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine:
- Try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness practices
- Adopt healthy coping mechanisms, such as engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, exercise (which helps you maintain a healthy weight and improve your mood), or seeking out a counselor or support group
Stress management is good for your entire mind and body, so you reap the rewards of stress management in many ways!
Managing vascular disease
By adopting these five strategies to protect yourself against vascular disease, you can significantly reduce your risk of vascular complications. However, not all risk factors are within your control, and if you spot any signs of vascular disease, such as leg pain or swelling, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
From arterial blockages to spider veins to carotid artery disease and venous insufficiency, our team is here to help you get the vascular care you need in Munster, Indiana, and Tinley Park, Illinois. To schedule your appointment, contact Vascular Specialists today.