‘Step It Up’ for September is the annual event run by the circulation foundation to raise awareness and support for vascular disease.
The circulatory system is made up of vessels and muscles that help control the flow of blood around the body, this process is circulation. The main parts of this system are the heart, arteries, capillaries and veins. This is essential for carrying oxygen and essential nutrients around the body in the arteries and carries the waste products and carbon dioxide in veins.
Vascular disease is the collective term for diseases of the arteries, veins and lymphatics. Every part of the body to which blood flows can be affected by it and it’s as common as cancer and heart disease. Atherosclerosis is the build up of fatty deposits in any artery.
One of the most common forms of vascular disease is peripheral artery disease, which is when the arteries in your legs are affected. It is estimated that 9% of the population are affected by this.
What causes vascular disease?
· Inflammation and weakness of the veins and arteries and the build up of fatty deposits in the blood vessel.
· The accumulation of fatty deposits over time can prevent blood flow to vital organs and muscles which can cause lack of mobility, pain and tissue death.
· Vascular disease is the most common precursor to coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke
What are the risk factors?
· Family history of vascular disease, angina, heart attacks or stroke
· High blood pressure
· Being overweight
· High cholesterol
· Unhealthy diet
· Lack of exercise
This increases the process of atherosclerosis. Cholesterol which is the fat in the blood is also known to increase the process of atherosclerosis.
Smoking has been directly related to accelerating the process of atherosclerosis, this reduces the amount of blood flow and thickened blood which makes it difficult to pass through narrow arteries.
If you are diabetic this increases your chances of having high blood glucose levels on a regular basis and this accelerates the process of atherosclerosis. Diabetics tend to develop this in a different pattern to non diabetics, it’s important to control sugars.
Find out more at: https://www.circulationfoundation.org.uk/