A surprise visit to York Hospital by cricket legend Sir Ian Botham helped staff to raise awareness of the dangers of vascular disease at an event this week.
Sir Ian, along with over 80 staff and visitors to the hospital, took advantage of free blood pressure and health checks to see whether they were at risk of developing vascular disease, a condition that affects four million people a year in the UK with 200,000 preventable deaths. The checks were being offered to highlight Vascular Disease Awareness Week.
More than ten percent of people were found to have higher than average blood pressure and were given advice from vascular specialists.
Nicky Wilson, vascular nurse practitioner, said: "Vascular disease can affect anyone at anytime and is as widespread as both cancer and heart disease. It accounts for 40 percent of deaths in the UK.
"People can be affected in different ways - pain when walking, cold hands and feet, aneurysm or stroke. The condition can be hereditary but there are some clear risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, diet and weight."
Vascular disease affects a wide range of people particularly those with diabetes and the elderly.
Nicky continued: "One of the most common forms is peripheral vascular disease which is more commonly known as hardening of the arteries. This affects the legs and can cause pain, ulceration and amputation. Because many of the nine percent of the population who suffer with it are not aware of the disease, this illness can be left untreated and the effects are irreversible.
"The good news is that the disease can be treated medically and surgically. Prompt treatment makes a huge difference, for example people with symptoms of a mini stroke can have surgery on the arteries in the neck to help prevent them having a major stroke.
"Making lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, exercise, and not smoking are the biggest priority in preventing and controlling this disease. A blood pressure check is the most simple and painless way of monitoring your health and can be done at your GP practice and some pharmacies."
Anyone who is worried that they are at risk of vascular disease can find out more online from the Circulation Foundation, a charity which champions the prevention and treatment of all vascular diseases where a risk checker tool is available on their website www.circulationfoundation.org