Good Vascular Health

There are many factors that lead to various medical conditions affecting the blood vessels. This includes diseases of the heart arteries (coronary arteries), large blood vessels of the neck (carotid arteries), blood vessels leading to the kidneys (renal arteries), the aorta (the big blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body) as well as many of the blood vessels effecting circulation to the legs.

By changing basic lifestyle habits, exercising and decreasing your risk factors, development and progression of these “blood vessel diseases” can be altered.

Symptoms of Decreased Blood Flow

Depending on which blood vessels are affected, patients experience a variety of symptoms

If heart arteries become blocked:

  • Chest pain/discomfort may occur.
  • Neck, jaw, or arm pain may be present.
  • Shortness of breath may be noted.
  • A decrease in exercise tolerance sometimes occurs.

If the blood vessels of the neck are blocked:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness may occur.

If the kidney arteries become diseased:

  • Blood test results may be the only indication trouble is brewing.

If blood vessels in the legs are blocked:

  • Pain, tingling or numbness may occur.
  • Changes in skin temperature or color could occur.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please notify your physician!

If you believe you are at risk for conditions affecting your blood vessels, consult with your physician for the potential need for testing. Do what you can to eliminate or reduce risk factors and get regular medical care to prevent complications.

Ways to Improve Circulation

  • Don't smoke or use tobacco. This includes pipes, cigars, cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Smoking is probably the most important risk factor for diseases affecting the blood vessels.
  • Eat a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat to reduce your risk of atherosclerosis. This is the process of plaque buildup in your arteries. The plaque slows or stops blood flow to and from your blood vessels.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. For every pound of fat, your heart needs to pump blood through an extra mile's worth of blood vessels.
  • Watch your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), you are at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney damage.
    • Your blood pressure should be less than 130/80.
    • If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care provider.
  • If you have diabetes, work to keep your blood glucose in good control.
    • People with diabetes are at greater risk because of the damage that diabetes can do to blood vessels.
    • Check with your health care provider if you are having problems with your diabetes.
  • Walk! A walking program will improve circulation and promote growth of new blood vessels. Ask your health care provider for advice.