Vascular disease can strike anyone, at any age, at any time. It often strikes without warning… symptoms may not appear until it is limb or life threatening.
Important: If an emergency arises, get medical treatment immediately – Dial 911 – especially if you experience loss of vision, slurred speech, extreme dizziness or confusion, weakness in a limb, or severe chest or abdominal pain. Quick action can save your life.
Here’s what you can do to reduce the risk of a major disability or even death:
- Do not smoke or use any tobacco products
- Adopt healthy eating habits
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Keep your cholesterol levels under control
- If you are diabetic, control your blood sugar level
- Reduce stress
- Communicate your family health history to your doctor, particularly if a blood relative had poor circulation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease
- Get regular physical examinations from your doctor
Cardiovascular disease is a serious and unremitting problem in the United States and the world. Screening individuals with risk factors (such as elevated age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history, diabetes, and smoking) may be useful to identify people with undiagnosed disease who could then benefit from lifestyle changes, medications, and a variety of treatment options.
More research needs to be done to define those most likely to benefit, but earlier identification of disease may improve health outcomes. Importantly, screening provides an educational opportunity that can happen in many settings: the hospital, family physician’s office, health fairs, and community settings. The focus should be on accessibilty and evidence-based application of findings, so those at risk can benefit.