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  • Cardiovascular disease

    Published Apr. 06, 2024

    Cardiovascular disease refers to problems with the heart or blood vessels.

    Many of these problems are related to hardened blood vessels. This happens when fat and cholesterol build up inside the blood vessels (called atherosclerosis). Over time this can narrow blood vessels, block blood flow, and lead to heart attack and stroke.

    Cardiovascular disease can also cause temporary or permanent loss of vision in these conditions:

        • Carotid artery disease. When the blood vessels (the carotid arteries) carrying blood to the eyes and brain become blocked. A TIA or "mini-stroke" (transient ischemic attack) is often a signal of a blocked carotid artery. It may seem as if a dark curtain is being drawn over your eye.An illustration showing the carotid artery, which are the main blood vessels in your neck that send blood to your eyes and brain.
        • Retinal vein occlusion. When the retinal vein or branches of it become blocked. This can cause a sudden loss of vision, which may return in some cases.
        • Ischemic optic neuropathy. When blood to the optic nerve does not flow properly. This may damage the optic nerve and cause permanent vision loss.

    Talk with your doctor about lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. They may suggest:

        • a diet low in cholesterol
        • getting regular exercise
        • quitting smoking
        • reducing alcohol intake

    In some cases, medication may be needed, such as those used to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.