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Are You at Risk for Vascular Disease? Read this.


Vascular Disease Tests

September marks vascular disease awareness month. Why should you be aware of it? Because vascular disease is as common as cancer and heart disease, and responsible for 40% of deaths in the UK every year! Many of those deaths are preventable, however. Here’s what you need to know to reduce your risk.


What is vascular disease?

Vascular disease refers to a collection of conditions that affect the circulatory system in every part of the body where the blood flows. These conditions are often known by other names that include:

  • Arterial disease
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Carotid disease
  • Venous disease
  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia
  • Lymphedema
  • Blood clotting disorders like thrombosis and embolisms

Vascular disease occurs when the veins, lymph vessels and arteries become inflamed or weakened by fatty deposits in the blood vessels over time. As a result, this can affect circulation, which can lead to poor mobility and pain.

If left untreated, these fatty deposits can lead to peripheral arterial disease (PAD), atherosclerosis, amputation, coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

Vascular disease is incredibly common and responsible for 40 per cent of deaths in the UK. This makes it as prevalent a killer as cancer and heart disease. As worrying as that sounds, many of these deaths are preventable with healthy lifestyle choices.


Are you at risk from vascular disease?

There are a few risk factors that have been found to increase or accelerate a person’s chances of getting vascular disease:

  • Age – risk increases after the age of 50 to make sure you monitor health regularly as you get older
  • Being male – men are more likely to get the disease at an earlier age
  • Ethnic background – The NHS states that vascular disease is more common in people of south Asian, African or Caribbean descent.
  • Family history – if parents, siblings or grandparents have suffered from vascular disease, angina, heart attacks or stroke you should monitor your vascular health
  • High blood pressure – make sure you test blood pressure levels regularly
  • Smoking – harmful substances in tobacco can narrow blood vessels
  • Obesity – if your BMI is 25 or above, or if your waist measurement exceeds 94cm for men and 80cm for women, you may be classed as overweight
  • Diabetes – sufferers have twice the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • High cholesterol levels – you can check your cholesterol at home
  • Unhealthy diet – for example, too much fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fibre, fruit and vegetables
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Lack of exercise – a sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart and vascular issues
  • stress


5 tips for preventing vascular disease

Many risk factors mentioned above can be reduced with lifestyle changes. With a few tweaks to your diet, exercise and weight, for instance, you could reduce your risk for vascular disease and your overall health and wellbeing. Here are a few tips:

  1. Move more and increase your overall physical activity to 30 minutes each day
  2. Eat more healthily by lowering your intake of saturated fats, salt and sugar, and increasing your intake of fibre, wholegrains, fruit and vegetables
  3. Cut down or give up smoking and alcohol
  4. Reduce stress with relaxation techniques (such as meditation and yoga) and social interactions
  5. Regularly monitor your health by testing blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol levels and waist measurements. You can do many of these health tests at home.


Can you help to generate awareness?

The Circulation Foundation is excited to announce this year’s national campaign to raise awareness of vascular disease called #TheBodyWalk. Can you help?

Whether you choose to walk, run, cycle or swim, you can help to raise funds for this great cause by asking friends and family to sponsor you £1 for every mile you achieve. You can find out more here: The Body Walk Fundraiser


What to do if you are concerned

If you are concerned about your vascular health, you should speak to your GP, as they will be able to conduct tests and give professional advice.

You can also take a look at these approved and certified health tests for use at home, which will help with general monitoring of you health: