This September it’s Vascular Disease Awareness Month; a month-long event during which healthcare professionals, charity supporters, individuals with vascular disease and their loved ones comes together to raise awareness of this condition.
The event is organised by the Circulation Foundation who are the UK’s only organisation dedicated to saving the lives and limbs of those with vascular disease through research and awareness-raising campaigns. The aim of the Circulation Foundation is to get more cases of vascular disease diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
What is Vascular Disease?
Vascular disease is a painful condition caused by weakened or inflamed veins and arteries. The disease is brought about by the build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels. Unfortunately the causes of vascular disease usually build up over a long period of time, meaning that symptoms can take a while to manifest. If this is the case, arteries are often highly damaged by the time of diagnosis and blood flow to vital organs and muscles has already been compromised, resulting in mobility issues and chronic pain.
As the blockages in arteries caused by vascular disease can restrict blood flow to organs like the heart and brain, people with the condition are more likely to develop other, more serious illnesses. For example, vascular disease is the most common medical precursor to coronary heart disease. It also greatly increases a person’s risk of having a stroke, heart attack and angina.
There are a few variations of vascular disease, the most common of which is peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is estimated to affect around 9% of the British population. The precise cause of vascular disease is not known, but there are a few risk factors which can make a person more susceptible to the condition. These include:
- Being male
- Having a family history of vascular disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Lack of exercise
The most prevalent symptom of vascular disease, especially of peripheral arterial disease, is severe pain in the legs when walking or exercising. This pain usually affects both legs at the same time and goes away after a few minutes of rest. Other symptoms include hair loss on legs and feet, numbness in the legs, open ulcers on feet and legs, shiny skin or a change in skin colour on feet and legs, loss of muscle tissue and in men, erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing one or more of these issues you should speak to your GP as soon as possible.
Vascular Disease Awareness Month
There is no shortage of ways for you to get involved with Vascular Disease month in East Berkshire. You can get creative and organise an event or participate in a sponsored run, cycle, walk or bake sale near you. Alternatively, the Circulation Foundation is asking people to put up promotional displays and collection boxes, so why not see if you can set something up in your place of work or local community centre?
If you would like to organise an awareness-raising event or find out what has been organised near you, you can get in touch with the team at [email protected] for information. Include your plans for a promotional event in your email and they will send you a toolkit with all the materials you need.
In addition to this, the Circulation Foundation would like to encourage as many people as possible to be assessed for vascular disease and learn their risks, so make sure you take this opportunity to use the site’s risk checker.
For more information on vascular disease, please visit the NHS Choices page.