September marks Vascular Disease Awareness Month. In this blog, We Are Wellbeing’s Director of Wellbeing, Sue Jones, explains what you can do to prevent Vascular Disease…
What is Vascular Disease?
Did you know that there are around 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the adult human body! Vascular Disease is any abnormal condition of the blood vessels – the arteries and veins. Blood vessels circulate blood through the body. Any issues along this huge network of blood vessels – known as the vascular system – can cause severe pain, disability or even death.
Vascular Diseases outside the heart can present anywhere in the body. Some common Vascular Diseases which you may already have heard of are are stroke, peripheral artery disease, pulmonary embolism (blood clots), deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins.
Vascular Disease and Blood Vessels
Your vascular system is the road network of your body and is composed of three types of blood vessels:
- Arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart. They nourish and sustain every part of the body.
- Veins, which carry the blood back to the heart after the oxygen has nourished the body. The only exception to this is the pulmonary artery, which carries oxygen-poor blood from your heart to your lungs, where it exchanges carbon dioxide for oxygen. The newly oxygen-rich blood gets pumped back into the heart via the pulmonary vein to supply the body.
- Capillaries, which are the smallest of the blood vessels in the body. They connect the arteries to the veins, specifically by distributing oxygenated blood from arteries to the tissues of the body and then to feed deoxygenated blood from the tissues back into the veins.
Vascular Disease, Obesity and Type Two Diabetes
Potentially everybody is at risk of Vascular Disease. This is due to the increase in obesity and type two diabetes that the world is currently experiencing. As we support an ageing population, Vascular Diseases are becoming epidemic and can occur in anyone at any time; affecting both men and women equally. Atherosclerosis, a potentially serious condition where arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques, can begin in adolescence, when children are fed unhealthy foods and have a lack of exercise.
It is most common for Vascular Disease to occur at areas of turbulent blood flow in the body, such as when the blood flow in the arteries changes direction abruptly.
So how do I prevent Vascular Disease?
This can all sound rather scary, but the good news is that measures can be taken to reduce the risk of Vascular Disease.
- Develop healthy eating habits and a change of mindset from ‘dieting’ to ‘eating to nourish your body and facilitate a healthy life’. Try to view eating food through the filter of developing an eating approach you will adopt for the rest of your life. Consider taking Pareto approach. That means eating 80% of foods to nourish and sustain your body in a healthy manner and 20% of ‘treats’ and ‘mental health’ foods, which will enable you to still enjoy foods which should be limited along the way.
- Regular exercise. Try to find an exercise that works for you and that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, chances are that you will not carry on doing it! Try to find an exercise that you will be able to carry on doing for the vast majority of your life. If you are not a ‘sporty’ type of person, maybe consider exercise such as walking, pilates and yoga.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
- Do not smoke or use any tobacco products.
- Monitor your cholesterol levels and keep them under control.
- If you are diabetic, proactively control your blood sugar level.
- Try to reduce stress in your life and the impact that stress can have on you.
- Communicate your family health history to your GP, particularly if a blood relative had poor circulation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or Cardiovascular Disease.
- Get regular physical examinations from your GP/doctor.
Be aware of risk factors
Cardiovascular Disease is a current, serious and unremitting problem throughout the world. It is important to be aware if you are an individual who has risk factors, such as; elevated age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history, diabetes, and smoking. You may find it useful to explore your health status with your GP. This helps to identify if you may have an undiagnosed disease. If that’s the case, you may benefit from lifestyle changes, medications or a variety of treatment options.
And remember, if an emergency happens, don’t delay! Get medical treatment immediately. Dial 999 – especially if you experience loss of vision, slurred speech, extreme dizziness or confusion, weakness in a limb, or severe chest or abdominal pain. Quick action can save your life or the lives of those around you.
Educate your employees on Vascular Disease
Our expert coaches are on hand to deliver a range of seminars and health checks. Together, let’s ensure employees stay healthy and happy. Get in touch with our team for all the info.