Why giving up booze can save your legs, east London vascular disease surgeon claims
PUBLISHED: 17:00 28 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:37 28 August 2019
More than 40,000 people in the East End may be suffering damage to veins and arteries caused by bad food, smoking and lack of exercise.
That's the shock estimate by a leading surgeon at the BMI London Independent Hospital using data from the Circulation Foundation medical research organisation.
There is a risk of developing vascular disease which can be fatal, consultant Harpaul Flora warned.
"Just making a few changes now could stop you developing vascular disease," he urged.
"People are at risk of the most common form of vascular disease by the arteries becoming restricted with fatty deposits stopping blood reaching muscles and skin efficiently."
Mr Flora, a specialist in minimally-invasive surgery at the hospital in Stepney Green, was speaking ahead of Vascular Disease Awareness month, running through September.
The national health campaign aims to raise public awareness of the condition said to be "as common as cancer and heart disease" which is responsible for four out of 10 premature deaths in the UK.
"Switching to a healthy diet and exercising more could protect against vascular diseases," he explained.
"People are most at risk who smoke, are overweight, drink too much, don't have a healthy diet or lack enough exercise.
"But addressing these factors can help prevent vascular diseases later in life, or at least ease the symptoms if they're suffering now."
Inflammation and weakness of the leg arteries is caused by accumulation of fatty deposits in blood vessels, with less blood getting to the legs, resulting in fewer nutrients for cell growth and cell maintenance.
Symptoms can include pain that usually goes away after a few minutes' rest.
But it can also lead to other more severe symptoms, doctors warn, such as ulcers and open sores that don't heal, numbness or weakness in the legs, losing the hair on legs and toenails that are brittle and grow slowly. The skin on legs could also become shiny and muscles could shrink as they waste away.
Around nine per cent of the population suffers with vascular disease, the Circulation Foundation researchers have found. This could affect 43,000 people in the East End out of a Tower Hamlets adult population approaching 480,000.