How to improve your vascular health
Friday, October 12, 2018
Making simple lifestyle changes today can lead to improved vascular health later in life.
It’s important to make vascular health a priority. The vascular system is made up of blood vessels that carry blood to and from the body’s tissues and organs, says Dr. James Offord, a vascular surgeon with The Vascular Specialists at Aurora BayCare. A decline in vascular health can lead to a long list of serious health conditions.
Problems within our arteries can result in atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries become thickened and stiff. Blood clots can clog blood vessels, slowing or blocking much-needed blood flow to the heart and the rest of the body. Restricted blood flow may lead to vascular conditions such as peripheral artery disease, non-healing wounds, and critical limb ischemia.
“There are numerous health benefits from making changes to lower the risk for vascular disease,” Offord says.
Making lifestyle changes can set you on the path to improved vascular health. Changes include, but are not limited to:
Controlling your blood pressure: High blood pressure can lead to arterial damage, putting you at risk of peripheral artery disease, heart failure, kidney damage, and stroke. Your blood pressure should be no higher than 140/90.
Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of vascular disease. Also, follow a heart-healthy diet. It helps control high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood sugars if you are diabetic. Choose a balanced diet that includes:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean meat and poultry
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
Staying active: Physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Set a goal to achieve 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
Not smoking: If you smoke, make every effort to quit, even if it means trying, failing and trying again. Smoking has a huge impact on vascular disease and stroke risk.
Managing your diabetes: If you have diabetes, work to keep your blood sugars controlled. People with diabetes are at a greater risk for peripheral artery disease because of the damage diabetes can do to blood vessels.
If you do have vascular health issues, it’s important to follow your treatment plan. That means taking your medications as prescribed, as well as adhering to any lifestyle changes your doctor may have asked you to make – increased physical activity, healthier diet, smoking cessation and so on.
Make sure also to attend any scheduled checkups with your doctor and continue to monitor your blood pressure, weight and blood sugar levels as well as your general well-being.
Dr. James Offord is a general and vascular surgeon with The Vascular Specialists at Aurora BayCare. He treats patients at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay. To request an appointment, call 920-288-8250 or do so online.