The vascular system comprises a system of tubes that transport fluids around the body. These tubes include those that transport blood (arteries and veins) and those that transport fluid (the lymphatic system). When discussing vascular health, it is important to keep in mind that it involves the entire vascular system, not just those that transport blood.
When the vascular system is unhealthy, it may lead to mild to serious health problems. Some of the common problems that affect the vascular system include peripheral artery disease, venous thromboembolism, and aortic aneurysms. Dr. Irfan Siddiqui, an experienced cardiologist and founder of the Heart and Vascular Institute of Florida, recommends several steps one can take to maintain vascular health and avoid some of the conditions mentioned above:
The American Heart Association identifies smoking as the number-one risk factor for vascular disease. The US Surgeon General reports that smoking-induced cardiovascular disease (CVD) results in approximately 140,000 premature deaths in the United States annually. Globally, one in ten deaths caused by CVD is attributable to smoking. The evidence is overwhelming, explains Dr. Irfan Siddiqui — if you quit smoking, you will dramatically reduce your risk of getting CVD. This goes for smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, vaporizers, and other types of smoking devices. Although quitting is not always easy, taking steps to quit will help you keep your vascular health in check.
Modern life may sometimes result in a sedentary lifestyle — a lifestyle characterized by little to no physical activity. Some studies have linked a sedentary lifestyle to vascular disease. So, what’s the remedy? It’s simple, says Dr. Irfan Siddiqui, move around more often! If you spend lots of time in front of your desk or engaged in other activities with extended periods of sitting, you need to schedule in time to be active. He recommends walking as the best way to take care of your vascular health. Walking exercises all the muscles in the body and provides a rhythmic muscular contract/relax cycle in the legs, which is essential to ensuring the peripheral vascular system remains healthy.
Eat Heart-healthy Foods
What you eat is closely linked to your vascular health. Some foods are high in unhealthy fats, which can cause cholesterol to build up in your blood vessels leading to CVD. To maintain a healthy heart and vascular system, you need to eat heart-healthy food intentionally. These include foods like fish rich in omega oils such as salmon, tuna and herring, nuts like walnuts, berries like blueberries and cranberries, flaxseed, oatmeal, tofu and red, yellow, and orange veggies. Moreover, maintaining a balanced diet that also takes into consideration portion control can further help you maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Weight is an extremely sensitive issue for many people. Most people feel ashamed by their weight and so are often unwilling to discuss it openly. However, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute identifies obesity (mild to morbid) as a major risk factor in vascular disease. That is, people who are overweight have a higher risk of developing CVD and other complications than those who are not overweight. Losing weight depends on an individual’s weight and circumstances. Dr. Irfan Siddiqui states that losing weight can be assisted by eating healthy meals, maintaining portion control, and undertaking an exercise regimen.
Manage Other Conditions
In many instances, vascular disease does not occur in isolation. Individuals who develop CVD will often have other preexisting conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. If you have any preexisting conditions, managing them can help you protect your vascular health. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, for instance, taking your medication as prescribed and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help protect your vascular health. If you do not have any diagnosed condition, regular screening can help ensure no condition goes undetected. Be sure to check in with your doctor regularly and report any symptoms you may have.
Maintaining vascular health is an essential step in maintaining overall health. If your vascular system is diseased, it can easily affect other functions in your body, further lowering your quality of life. Dr. Irfan Siddiqui’s final thoughts are these — your vascular system supplies the rest of your body, which places it at the center of your entire body systems. When you take care of your vascular system, you are taking care of your whole body. Although in some cases, vascular disease can be hereditary, this should not stop you from taking steps to preserve your vascular health. What you do to take care of your health today will help your body take care of you tomorrow.