A good understanding of how these 9 conditions are threatening your arteries and veins will save you a world of trouble down the line.
Some of them have no symptoms until a serious risk such as a heart attack or a stroke starts brewing: sometimes it’s too late.
Your arteries and veins are vital to the circulation of blood throughout your body as well as to your health and longevity.
➡ The arteries pump oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body
➡ The veins return the blood to your lungs to receive oxygen.
How These 9 Conditions Are Threatening Your Arteries And Veins
1. Coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as coronary heart disease (CHD), is the most common type of heart disease, and it kills about 370,000 people in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
➡ CAD happens when atherosclerosis causes plaque to build up in the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
➡ When blood flow to the heart is reduced or blocked by Coronary Artery Disease, a person may experience chest pain (angina), heart attack, heart failure, or an irregular heartbeat known as an arrhythmia.
According to the American Heart Association, your risk of Coronary Artery Disease is greater if you have:
➡ High blood pressure (Hypertension)
But you can greatly reduce your risk for coronary artery disease by choosing a heart-healthy diet (low in saturated fat and sodium) and exercising regularly.
In fact, there are hardly any medical conditions that aren’t affected by a poor diet, being overweight and a lack of exercise.
➡ In addition, lower your risk by managing any medications your doctor may have prescribed for control of high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol.
2. Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a common condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the legs
Up to 900,000 venous thromboembolism (blood clot) cases occur each year in the United States, according to the CDC, and up to 100,000 of them are fatal.
:arrow: If left untreated, DVT can be fatal.
➡ Events such as hospitalization, surgery, prolonged bed rest or being unable to move, cancer, and estrogen-based medications like the pill can put you at risk for blood clots.
➡ Knowing your family history of DVT, or any blood clotting disorders can help you and your doctors prevent a life-threatening blood clot.
Movement is vital to reduce your DVT risk.
➡ For example, get up and move as directed by your doctor after surgery, and avoid sitting for long periods of time.
3. Pulmonary Embolism
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a serious and sometimes fatal complication of DVT that happens when a blood clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs.
➡ If the clot blocks blood flow to a lung artery, your lungs and possibly other organs can be damaged because of low oxygen levels in your blood.
➡ For one in four people with PE, sudden death is the first symptom.
➡ Early warning signs can include chest pain and coughing up blood.
➡ As with DVT, surgery, heart disease, or cancer put you at higher risk for this condition, as does being immobile for long periods of time.
To prevent pulmonary embolism, eliminate blood clot risk factors you can control like smoking, the use of estrogen hormone therapy, lack of physical activity, and obesit
➡ Atherosclerosis, also called hardening of
➡ It occurs when plaque (cholesterol, fat, and calcium) accumulates in the arteries, restricting blood flow.
➡ Eventually, the arteries can become blocked and cause serious problems like a heart attack or stroke.
➡ High cholesterol, (especially high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol blood levels), is a major risk for atherosclerosis
Keep heart disease risk factors in check by:
- Eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking
- Reducing stress.
- Taking your high-cholesterol and blood-pressure medications as prescribed to prevent heart attack and stroke caused by atherosclerosis.
➡ A stroke occurs when a clogged or ruptured artery blocks blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die.
➡ Controlling your stroke risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes will reduce your likelihood of a stroke.
➡ Healthy habits, such as eating a healthy diet, limiting salt, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and limiting alcohol — also help prevent stroke.
6. Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can be a cosmetic condition or a
serious medical problem.
➡ The swollen, purple veins often show up on women’s legs after pregnancy, as well as in men and women over age 40.
Surveys estimate that about 20 to 25 million people in the United States have varicose veins, according to Vascular Cures, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization.
➡ Varicose veins occur when blood pools in the veins because of a problem with the one-way valve that normally keeps blood flowing back to the heart.
➡ If varicose veins cause pain, swelling, burning, or itching, the medical problem needs attention.
➡ Staying physically active, as well as keeping your blood pressure and weight down, can help lower your risk of varicose veins.
➡ Calf-strengthening exercises can help and even prevent varicose veins.
7. Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a common condition that affects up to 20 percent of adults.
This condition is often associated with varicose veins and with deep vein thrombosis.
➡ In people with CVI, the veins are blocked or aren’t working properly because of damage to the vein walls.
➡ The damage causes the veins to pool with blood, especially when you’re standing.
➡ Avoiding standing for long periods of time and wearing compression stockings can help reduce blood pooling and risks of CVI.
8. Carotid Artery Disease
➡ Carotid artery disease affects the two large arteries in the neck that supply blood to your brain.
This condition increases the risk for stroke, and it causes more than half of the stroke cases in the U.S. according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
➡ Carotid artery disease, which is often linked to atherosclerosis, occurs when the arteries become narrowed by the buildup of plaque (fatty deposits).
➡ You are at greater risk for carotid artery disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy blood cholesterol levels (high cholesterol), or a family history of atherosclerosis.
➡ People with carotid artery disease normally take medications prescribed for this condition and follow a healthy lifestyle to prevent blood clots and reduce their risk of stroke.
Peripheral Artery Disease (also called PAD) is often associated with atherosclerosis and the risk increases as we age. According to the CDC, it affects about 8.5 million people in the United States.
➡ In Peripheral Artery Disease, the arteries furthest from the heart (usually in the pelvis and legs) become narrowed due to a buildup of plaque (fatty deposits).
➡ Decreased blood flow to the muscles may cause pain and fatigue in the legs, often even with mild exercise or when climbing stairs.
Your doctor can detect PAD using imaging tests and by comparing blood pressure levels in your arms and legs.
➡ High blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and diabetes put you at risk for PAD, as does smoking.
And the advice about changing how these 9 conditions are threatening your arteries and veins is the same throughout the medical community:
Exercising, keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk for PAD.
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