Get Heart Smart

Get Heart Smart

Your vascular system carries blood to and from the heart. Vascular disease can take many different forms. It ranges from diseases of the veins, arteries and lymph vessels to blood disorders.

Poor vascular health can cause arteries to become thick and stiff (a condition known as atherosclerosis), create blood clots that can block blood flow to the heart or brain, and weaken blood vessels to the point of bursting.

Dr. Stephen Self“Many of the vascular diseases are silent and often go unnoticed until they eventually lead to major problems,” said Stephen Self, MD, vascular surgeon at KentuckyOne Health Vascular Surgery Associates. “It’s crucial that people are aware of the risk factors and become proactive about their health.”

Knowing the Risk Factors


Despite the sly nature of many vascular diseases, there are some controllable and uncontrollable risk factors you should know about, including:

  • Age — People 50 and older are at greatest risk.
  • Smoking — Smoke inhalation increases vascular damage.
  • Lack of exercise — Contributes to fat storage, muscle loss and low energy
  • Obesity — A common sign of poor vascular health
  • Unhealthy diet — Poor diets can increase bad cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
  • Genetics — Your family medical history can help define your risk.
  • Diabetes — Diabetes is linked to several vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, stroke and peripheral artery disease.

Protecting Yourself


“I recommend people with increased risk of vascular disease, such as those who smoke or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and anyone over the age of 50, get vascular screenings,” Dr. Self said. “They are completely painless and can ultimately save your life.”

Because vascular disease symptoms are sometimes silent, people may not recognize there is an issue until it worsens. Why take the chance? In just 30 minutes, a vascular screening can assess your risk and help you start reducing it.

To speak with one of our vascular experts, call KentuckyOne Health Vascular Surgery Associates at 844.318.1676.

To schedule a vascular screening, call 844.318.1688 (select option 2 and then 1).

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Summer edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.

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