Circulatory Disorders and Diet

The most common circulatory, or vascular, disorders are high blood pressure and atherosclerosis; others include various clotting abnormalities and diseases marked by reduced blood flow. Some of the more common are aneurysms, intermittent claudication, phlebitis, and Raynaud's disease.

There is no specific dietary treatment for an aneurysm, but following a low-fat, low-salt diet can help prevent those caused by atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

Consuming ample fresh fruits and vegetables will provide the vitamin C needed to build and maintain strong blood vessels.Severe leg pain and cramps induced by walking are symptoms of intermittent claudication.

A lack of oxygen due to inadequate blood flow causes the pain. Atherosclerosis is responsible for most intermittent claudication; it is also common in Diabetes patients.

Adopting a very-low-fat diet and an exercise program (for example, the regimen developed by cardiologist Dean Ornish) has helped many patients. Including onions and garlic in the diet is said to improve blood flow. Patients with severe blockages, however, may re-quire surgery to remove them.

A diet that includes several servings a week of fatty fish or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as foods high in vitamin E, helps reduce in-flammation and clot formation.

Gamma linolenic acid, a substance in evening primrose and borage oils, has a similar effect; but check with a doctor before taking these, as they may interact with prescribed drugs. Typically, Raynaud's disease is set off by exposure to the cold; in some individuals, however, periods of stress may trigger an attack.

For unknown reasons, two-thirds of all Raynaud's sufferers are women. Smoking is blamed in many cases, but the disorder also occurs among nonsmokers. Some victims may also have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis. and other inflammatory autoimmune disorders.

Avoiding exposure of the hands and feet to cold temperatures can usually prevent or minimize attacks. Of course. not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke is critical. Consuming foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vi-tamin E may help.

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