Risk Factors

Risk Factors for Vascular Disease

Vascular disease affects many people starting as early as the age of 20, and increases with advancing age. It is mainly caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) due to a thickening of the artery lining from fatty deposits or plaques.

While the precise cause of vascular disease is unknown, there are several risk factors that accelerate the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries:

  • Smoking
  • Family history of vascular disease, angina, heart attacks or stroke
  • Being overweight
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diabetes
  • Being male
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Stress

What You Can Do

Your goal should be to prevent vascular disease from developing. So consider first whether
you belong to any of the risk groups above. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of developing a significant problem with cardiovascular disease.  Try to minimize your risk by:

  • Quitting smoking – Stopping smoking has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiac problems by 50 percent after only one year
  • Eating a varied and healthy diet, including lots of vegetables and products that are high in fiber and low in fat
  • Avoiding saturated fats (animal fat) and instead, eating foods prepared in fish and vegetable oils
  • Losing weight if you are overweight
  • Exercising more
  • Maintaining proper treatment for diabetes or high blood pressure

Vascular disease can be easily detected with a simple, quick and painless test at the only nationally certified vascular lab in the Cedar Valley area. Ask your doctor to schedule a screening with the experts at Northern Iowa Vascular Lab—it could save your life.