Risk factors for Atherosclerosis and Peripheral Vascular Disease, and how to reduce them

What you can do Why How
Stop smoking Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry to the muscles, makes you more likely to have a blood clot and accelerates the furring up process dramatically. Patches, chewing gum, sheer will power. Ask your GP for help and if you do slip back to smoking, start all over again.
Walk, swim or cycle regularly This will help develop the smaller blood vessels that have taken over the job of supplying the muscles, make your heart and legs more efficient and your exercise distance will slowly improve. Set yourself targets such as 5 minutes exercise every day, build some walking into your daily life by parking the car further from the shops/work, take the stairs not the lift, join the gym, start swimming.
Have your blood pressure checked Blood pressure increases the stress and strain on the vessels and if it runs higher than usual for prolonged periods, the arteries thicken up more rapidly. There are few symptoms of raised blood pressure so it can be present for years without you knowing. Visit your GP practice and ask the nurse to check it. If it is raised they will pass this on to the GP who can discuss the best treatment for you, which could be as simple as exercise and weight loss.
Check if you are diabetic Diabetes is increasingly common and significantly speeds up the deterioration of the arteries if blood glucose is not controlled. Many people do not demonstrate symptoms for long periods while the disease is developing. Visit your GP practice and ask the nurse to check. If your blood or urine tests show high sugar levels, they will pass this on to the GP who can discuss the best treatment for you.
Check your weight The more weight you are carrying, the harder your muscles have to work, so the less distance you can walk before resting. Overweight patients are at much higher risk of complications from surgery such as chest or wound infections, deep vein thrombosis, bruising or haematomas.  Work out your BMI (body mass index) or ask your GP or practice nurse to do this for you. If your BMI is over 30, you should discuss weight reduction options with your doctor, such as smaller portions and more exercise..
Take an aspirin every day It reduces the stickiness of the blood so you are less likely to have strokes or heart attacks. If you have had a bypass or stent, it will also help keep these working. You can buy them over the counter or get the prescribed by your GP. Either way, make sure your GP knows you are taking aspirin for their records.
Take a statin Statins are drugs which reduce cholesterol, which reduces the rate of arteries furring up. They also seem to reduce the risks of existing arterial disease causing problems, so even if your cholesterol is not too high, there is a benefit to taking a statin.. See your GP to check your cholesterol and get the medication prescribed.
Stop smoking It is the single most important cause of people running into problems with their arteries.