Many patients ask what they can do to prevent future vascular problems especially atherosclerosis which presents usually as a blockage of arteries. The number one thing patients can do is stop smoking and using all types of tobacco. Some people believe vaping is less dangerous. In reality, any form of tobacco can worsen vascular problems, even chewing tobacco. Talk to your primary care physician or vascular surgeon about ways to quit. Some of the most popular methods of quitting include using medications such as Chantix (venlafaxine) to assist patients in quitting or nicotine replacements with a nicotine gum or patch.
Another way patients can help to prevent vascular disease is to maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol. Only your physician can determine the cholesterol levels ideal for you based on your personal history. However, maintaining a healthy weight can help optimize cholesterol levels. Some people require medications to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Cholesterol medications can also help to stabilize some plaque formation and prevent further complications.
Diet remains a challenge for many patients, even those who are thin. Maximizing fruit and vegetable intake helps increase antioxidants and may help stop or reverse atherosclerosis formation. Minimizing fried foods and those foods high in fat and cholesterol may also slow the progression of arterial vascular disease. This doesn’t mean a patient can never have another hamburger. However, higher fat and higher sugary foods should be treats rather than daily staples.
Finally, patients need to maximize their medical treatment. If they are diabetic they need to take the medications prescribed to them and routinely check their blood sugars. They also need to check their feet everyday and report any changes to their physician immediately. Similarly, patients with hypertension (high blood pressure) need to make sure their pressure remains controlled and continue to take their medications as prescribed. Treating and preventing vascular disease requires a long term commitment to health but over time can help prevent further problems.