Vascular Health

From work pressures to personal challenges combined with a lack of sleep and the social influences that we’re constantly surrounded by, stress has become part of daily life for many. Yet, we often overlook the seriousness of the impact it can have on our physical health and well-being. Chronic stress can quietly contribute to many vascular health problems. In this article, we’ll explore that relationship and shed some light on the conditions that it can cause.

Vascular health refers to the state of our blood vessels, including arteries, veins and capillaries. This circulation system plays a vital role as it supplies oxygen and nutrients to our organs while removing waste products. Any disruption to this process can lead to a range of issues including cardiovascular diseases.

The consequences of chronic stress

Elevated blood pressure is a direct consequence of chronic stress. When we’re under this kind of pressure, the body’s “fight or flight” response kicks in and releases adrenaline and cortisol, which cause a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This can be beneficial in short bursts, but if this type of hormonal reaction continues long-term, it can damage the lining of blood vessels and make them more prone to complications.

Inflammation in the body can also cause vascular damage and the development of atherosclerosis, and chronic stress has been known to cause this. Over time, as fatty deposits accumulate on the inner walls of the arteries, they narrow and the risk of heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke increases.

When we’re stressed or worried, we often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms for comfort such as food, alcohol or smoking; all of which can have a negative effect on your vascular health. Overeating, particularly a diet of fatty and sugary foods, can lead to obesity and high cholesterol which are dangerous for the circulation system.  Meanwhile, smoking and alcohol consumption can also contribute to the same problems.

Sleeping can become difficult during periods of intense stress and we often forget to make time for exercise too, yet getting enough of both is vital to keep blood vessels healthy.

Blood clot formation can be another consequence of chronic stress and it is extremely dangerous. This can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and venous valve damage.

When the valves in the veins are damaged, they become less efficient at pumping blood and as a result, it pools in the vessels. This results in spider veins and varicose veins, which may require treatment from a specialist.

Vasoconstriction, or narrowed blood vessels, can also be caused by stress. This constriction can lead to symptoms such as cold hands and feet and it can strain the heart as it must work harder to pump blood through the body.

Reducing stress and improving vascular health

Understanding how stress and vascular health are intertwined is crucial, as it highlights the importance of managing the pressure you find yourself under. Practising relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and mindfulness can help with this.

Regular physical activity is also an effective way to release endorphins – natural mood boosters – which improve mental clarity and reduce stress. If you’re in a sedentary job, this is also important, as remaining immobile for long periods of time increases the risk of DVT.

We should also make sure that we’re consuming a balanced diet, rich in fruits, veg, whole grains and lean proteins that support vascular health. Avoiding excess consumption of sugar, sodium and alcohol can help to reduce the risk of inflammation and high blood pressure.

You should also improve your lifestyle by carving out free time in the week to spend with your social network and aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.

Staying on top of this should be a priority, but if you’re not sure how well you’re managing things, you can book a vascular health assessment with a specialist to find out more. At the Vein Artery Specialist clinic, we can carry out thorough consultations in conjunction with using advanced diagnostic equipment and put together a tailored treatment plan.

Vascular treatment

If you have been struggling with cosmetic issues such as spider veins or varicose veins, we can help you. Using minimally invasive, advanced techniques, our team can treat these problems efficiently with little recovery time involved.

You can also come to us for more serious treatments such as the stenting of aneurysms, carotid artery surgeries, venous ulcers or diabetic food disease management.

Whatever vascular challenges you’re facing, our primary expert Dr Adrian Ling and his team can help to address and treat them. By taking proactive steps to reduce stress in our lives and seeking treatment from professionals when we notice symptoms, we can benefit our overall health, well-being and happiness.