As cardiology specialists in NJ, one of the questions we are often asked by our patients is, “What can I do to improve my own circulatory health?” And it’s a good question, because sadly three of the major risk factors contributing to both arterial and venous disease we can’t do anything about. Those three are heredity (you are more at risk if your family members had circulatory diseases), gender (women, for hormonal reasons, are more at risk for vein diseases than men), and aging (so far, no one has figured out a way to become younger). But there are proactive steps you can take if you are concerned about your vascular health and want to stay healthy and free from disease. In this article we’ll list a few of them.
What do New Jersey residents need to know about how to improve their cardiovascular health?
- Make lifestyle choices that decrease your risk. The most serious risk factor for both arterial and venous disease is smoking, so if you can stop, you are already “ahead of the game.” Being overweight or obese also greatly increases your risk, so losing weight and eating right – avoiding salty, spicy, and fatty foods and adding more fiber to your diet – can also reduce your risk and improve your health.
- Get a professional vascular health screening. Few of the symptoms of arterial or venous disease are things you would notice on your own. Yes, you might notice varicose veins, if you have them, but what about more “silent killers” like deep vein thrombosis (DVT)? To detect these diseases, you need the help of skilled NJ heart and vein specialists like the doctors at CCC. We have the state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to detect circulatory diseases, and the expertise to treat these disorders, and the best part is that the screenings take only about an hour. They are painless and non-invasive, and in a few short minutes you’ll have an accurate picture of your level of risk for acquiring cardiovascular diseases.
- Avoid behaviors known to increase your risk. These include (especially if you already have varicose veins) avoiding high-impact aerobics or strenuous exercise that can increase your blood pressure. But don’t stop exercising; focus instead on gentle, regular exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga. If you have other alternatives, avoid taking birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, both of which increase your risk of vein disease.
- Make healthy fashion choices. Leave the Spandex and other “shapewear” in the closet; while medically approved compression stockings can increase your circulation, tight clothing, girdles, and garter belts press on the body at key points of the legs and thighs, and restrict circulation. Similarly, invest in some good shoes, and avoid high heels whenever you can, because they place additional pressure on the veins of your legs.
- Avoid inactivity. Becoming a “couch potato” is rapidly becoming recognized as one of the worst things you could do for your health. Inactivity is a significant risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and yes, circulatory problems of all kinds. So if your job requires you to sit for long periods of time, make a point of standing up and walking around at least once per hour. Consider standing up when you’re on the phone. While you’re sitting, avoid crossing your legs, and change your position often.
These are just a few of the simple, common-sense suggestions that we as vein and cardiology specialists in NJ can offer to our patients and to those reading these articles. But by all means don’t ignore the first of our suggestions – consider getting a vascular health screening, and soon. The sooner you know the current state of your circulatory health and your risk factors for acquiring vascular disease, the sooner you can take steps to prevent it. So give us a call at 201-299-4479 or go online and schedule an appointment for a screening.