Vascular disease is an abnormal condition that develops in your blood vessels. This includes your arteries and veins. But there are certain things you can do every day to decrease your chances of developing a vascular disease and other conditions.
In general, vascular diseases fall under a number of health conditions none of us want, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and blockage in the arms, legs and kidneys. Some of the specific types of vascular diseases include:
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Carotid Artery Disease
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
- Aortic Aneurysm
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- Varicose Veins
There is certainly a genetic component to your risk of vascular disease, and there are also a lot of factors you can address to reduce your risk. Here are 10 very specific strategies that can help you make progress towards those lofty goals.
1. Don’t diet.
Never again. In fact, banish the word from your vocabulary. Research shows that diets don’t work, so what does? A lifestyle change that is geared toward taking great care of yourself in a compassionate way, meaning that you get enough sleep, eat nutrient-rich foods, manage your stress and move around more. In fact, some fruits and vegetables can help improve circulation and “clean” your blood vessels.
2.Track your steps.
If you have vascular disease, there’s no better way to get your blood flowing than going for a walk. You can do this with your phone or with a pedometer. A good goal is to get at least 7,000 steps a day, but an improvement over what you normally do is a start. You’ll be surprised how tracking your steps motivates you to take an extra spin around the grocery store, be the one who gets the mail every day and walk the dog just a bit farther.
3. Quit smoking.
Smoking causes vascular disease because of the damage it does to the blood vessels throughout your body. If you’ve tried and failed in the past, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. But it may mean that you need help to be successful. Consider trying a smoking cessation program.
4. Watch your sugar intake.
This is different from dieting; it’s simply being aware of how sugar is in so many of the foods we eat. American sugar consumption has skyrocketed from less than 20 pounds per year in 1820 to about 130 pounds per year today, according to some very alarming infographics compiled by Forbes.
5. Consider juicing.
Juice cleanses have been all over the internet the last few years, but that’s not what we’re suggesting. If you’re looking for an easy way to sneak more greens in your diet, a juicer can do the trick. We found you can’t go wrong with a cucumber, half an apple and a handful of blueberries and other heart-cleansing foods.
6. Know your numbers.
7. Eat more good stuff.
Remember how we said not to diet? We stand by that. But what everybody should do is to aim to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. If you increase the amount of good stuff you’re eating, you’ll find that, over time, your hunger for the bad stuff will likely decrease.
8. Take up a new activity.
One of the reasons so many people don’t get enough exercise is because they think it’s boring. If you don’t like going to the gym, then try something new. You could join a pickleball league (it’s surprisingly easy to play), download a yoga app, join a walking club, check out the free tai chi class at your local library or find a hiking trail near your house.
9. Watch your alcohol intake.
It can easily creep up on you. True “low risk” drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as no more than three drinks on any single day. It recommends no more than seven drinks per week for women and no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week for men.
10. See your doctor regularly.
Vascular disease is serious and not to be taken lightly. So, you may need help to reduce your chances of vascular disease — and that’s definitely a step worth taking to stay as healthy as possible.
If you’ve had a heart episode such as a heart attack or stroke, it’s important to see your care through to the end by attending cardiac rehabilitation. Treatments for vascular disease are advancing, but you can’t take advantage of them if you don’t take control of your own health.
For more information on heart conditions that include vascular diseases, structural problems, and blood clots, download our guide “Heart Disease Facts That Could Change Your Life.” Tips include the telltale signs something may be wrong with your heart.