Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Inflammation and your vascular system

New research in vascular health indicates that inflammation is as big a challenge to our vascular systems as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. This allows us to better understand vascular blockages and opens up new avenues for improving vascular health. Inflammation describes a series of immune-defense reactions that occur when the body experiences injury or infection. These inflamed responses are normal, but can cause damage when they occur in healthy tissue or persist for too long. 

Dr. Eugene Tanquilut with Vascular Specialists is here to explain.

Inflammation within the vascular system presents interesting challenges for vascular health. The redness and swelling we associate with an inflamed scratch on our arm become significant within the tiny scale of our vascular system. Inflammation can narrow veins and arteries, and that narrowing can trap fatty plaque deposits. Inflammation also can occur as a response to a plaque deposit, further constricting blood flow or dislodging the plaque to travel to the brain or other parts of the body. At Vascular Specialists, we are increasingly encouraging patients to manage and relieve inflammation.

Typically, we avoid things that will cause inflammation we recognize, like bacteria and viruses. Many of us pay attention to the inflammatory triggers in our environment like pollutants, environmental chemicals, and second hand smoke. With frequent exposure to these elements, that inflammation response could develop into chronic conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But there are a host of other inflammation-inducing triggers we could be monitoring to decrease our overall levels of inflammation and protect ourselves against inflammation at the vascular level.

The two primary ways we can relieve systemic inflammation is to eat a healthy diet and stay active. Nutrition plays a key factor in inflammation as both a potential source of inflammation and a way to lower inflammation levels. Research has shown that diets high in refined grains, alcohol, and processed foods produced both higher inflammatory responses and an increased risk for stroke and heart attack. Not surprisingly, diets high in anti-inflammatory foods, like leafy greens, dark orange vegetables and whole grains, reported lower inflammation and decreased risk for stroke and cardiac event.

We can improve our inflammation levels by lowering the amount and types of food that inflame our system and increasing the amount and types that lower systemic inflammation.

We can also relieve inflammation by staying physically active. When we use our skeletal muscles, they release chemicals that suppress inflammation. Physical activity also helps with weight control, decreasing the low-grade inflammatory response that extra weight creates. Physical activity is also a vital component of many mental health and stress management programs, and evidence shows improved mental health and lower stress decreases overall inflammation.

While an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sounds like a good way to treat inflammation, NSAIDs treat acute, not chronic, inflammation. In fact, prolonged use of NSAIDs can actually increase overall system inflammation by irritating the stomach.

Inflammation represents a new way to think about our vascular health. Ask your doctor here at Vascular Specialists to help identify the underlying causes of your inflammation. Together, we’ll help you manage that inflammation for better vascular health.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What Is the Difference Between LDL and HDL Cholesterol?

Cholesterol has a bad reputation for being bad, but the surprising reality is that there are two main types of cholesterol — LDL and HDL — and one of them is good. Read on to learn more about cholesterol and the key difference between LDL and HDL.

The Link Between Smoking and a Peripheral Aneurysm

Smoking increases your risk of many different health conditions, including peripheral aneurysms. In this article, we take a closer look at how smoking affects your arteries and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing an aneurysm.

Can I stop prediabetes?

Early identification and lifestyle changes can improve the chances of avoiding diabetes; while not all of this is in your control, much of it is.

Understanding Your Non Surgical Vein Treatment Options

Treating problematic veins can help address aesthetic concerns like twisted or discolored veins, but it also helps combat symptoms such as pain, cramping, and heaviness. Read on to learn more about your nonsurgical vein treatment options.