Author: Texas Endovascular

Is it Safe to Fly With Vein Disease

Are you worried about flying with varicose veins? Right now, we know everyone is worried about the safety of air travel. Plane travel can take a toll on anyone’s health (and patience) but, for people with vein disease or compromised vascular systems, it can be particularly dangerous. This is especially true if severe varicose veins have left you with edema (swelling in your legs.) Fortunately, your vein health issues don’t have to keep you grounded, although this is officially the summer of the road trip. But, if you choose to fly, or even if you’re stuck sitting for a long drive, follow these three tips for long travel with vein disease: plane exercises

1. Rock your compression socks while flying with varicose veins

Anyone with a history of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), stroke, cancer, or heart disease; anyone who’s recently had pelvic or leg surgery; or anyone who is pregnant or obese is particularly at risk of having a health problem on a flight–especially if the travel time is eight hours or longer. Anyone in this higher risk category should talk to a doctor before flying. Most likely, your doctor will emphasize the importance of getting up regularly during your flight. You will also likely be fitted for compression socks, which come in a variety of styles and sizes.They also offer a range of compression levels, so be sure to ask your vein specialist how much force is necessary to keep you safe. Compression socks are important for air travel because they improve your circulation while reducing the risk of swelling and blood clots!

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

It’s important for all travelers to up their liquid intake on flights, but it’s crucial for people with vein problems. People tend to dehydrate on planes, and dehydration can actually make your body retain its remaining fluids. Of course, fluid retention and swelling go hand in hand, and swelling can cause problems with blood clots. To avoid this domino effect, start drinking as soon as you board the plane, and keep going throughout the flight. Bonus? You’ll probably have to use the restroom more often, which will help ensure your continued movement while in the air! ‘

3. Sneak in a Mid-Flight Workout or Take a Road Side Break

There are many times during a flight where getting up and walking around is simply not an option. But we know that movement is a crucial part of preventing blood clots. So what’s an air traveler to do? Sneak in a workout–without ever leaving your seat! Try this simple sequence whenever you remember, and your veins will likely stay in good shape throughout the flight: Extend both your legs, moving both feet in a circular motion. Next, bring one knee at a time up to your chest, holding the position for a minimum of 15 seconds. Finally, return both feet to the floor and point them upward. Lift both your heels as high as you can, and hold for as long as is comfortably possible.

Sources: National Blood Clot Alliance

 

The Link Between Infertility and Varicose Veins

Struggling with male infertility? Read this! Did you know that varicose veins are not just a problem that appears in your legs? As it turns out, varicose veins can develop in other sensitive areas of the body. And for men, one especially vulnerable area is in the testicles.

Yes, you read that correctly: about one in seven men has varicoceles, varicose veins in the testicles. It’s a condition where valves in the veins leading into the testicles fail, allowing blood to back up, just as it does with varicose leg veins. Though it’s a mostly harmless condition,  varicoceles can be linked to male infertility. And, this condition can also cause aching when you run, because exercise increases your blood flow, while gravity adds extra pressure to your sensitive parts.

How do Varicoceles Affect Fertility? varicocele and male infertility consult

As we mentioned, a varicocele is an enlargement of your scrotal veins  (that’s the loose pouch of skin that holds your testicles). When working properly, your veins operate with one-way valves that help blood to flow out of your testicles and scrotum and back up to your heart. But, when those valves aren’t doing their job, blood pools in your veins, making them stretch and bulge. This is true whether it happens in your legs veins or in more private parts of your body.

Now, remember: enlarged veins aren’t just a cosmetic problem. As blood build up in your veins, internal pressure and temperature can also increase. And that’s where your fertility could be threatened: extra pressure and heat in this sensitive part of your body could damage your testicles.

Staying Active With Varicose Veins

Exercise is always a good idea for improving blood flow and fighting vein disease. In order to keep exercise from causing or worsening varicoceles, male runners need to be very careful when selecting underwear for their runs. First and foremost, boxers are a no-go for male runners: you need underwear that has some built in support. For this purpose, a close-fitting pair of boxer briefs may be your best bet.

Another way to ensure sufficient support? Try the layered approach. Wear two pairs of underwear beneath your running shorts or pants, to create a more protective hold while you pound the pavement. You may also want to consider sport-specific underwear, since specially designed shorts will eliminate other potential irritants like sweat or painful seaming.

Of course, too much of a good thing can be a problem too. Choose underwear that’s too tight, and you run the risk of cutting off testicular blood flow, which can also be problematic. You want to shoot for the Goldilocks compromise in this type of situation: test out several styles of shorts, and opt for the one that’s not too loose and not too tight. Chances are, the one that’s “just right” will also be the pair that best protects you from testicular varicose veins!

Treating Male Varicose Veins

Fortunately, you can treat varicocele and protect your fertility. As interventional radiologists, we treat these varicose veins using a minimally invasive varicocele embolization. First, we make tiny incision in your groin. Next, we’ll insert a thin catheter through your vein, directing it toward the varicoceles. We may use X-ray dye to better see your veins, so we can target treatment. Finally, once we’ve pinpointed your varicoceles, we’ll inject tiny coils into the catheter, stopping blood flow to varicoceles and alleviating pressure to the area.

Of course, we understand that treating sensitive areas can be scary. But here’s the best news: during our minimally invasive treatment process, you be awake, but you won’t be in pain. Once the procedure is complete, we’ll carefully observe your recovery process for several hours. Then, in most cases, we can send you home on the same day as your treatment!

Have you noticed bulging veins in your scrotum? Are you and your partner struggling to conceive? Come in for a diagnostic vein exam. We can help determine if varicocele are contributing to your male infertility.

Sources: Society of Interventional Radiology

What is Critical Limb Ischemia?

If you have PAD, you should understand the American Heart Association’s guidelines for diagnosing and treating CLI (critical limb ischemia.) But in order to understand the guidelines, we must first understand the condition itself.

What is Critical Limb Ischemia?

CLI is a severe blockage in the arteries of your lower extremities. It heartbeat icondramatically reduces blood flow to your lower limbs, making it a serious form of PAD (peripheral arterial disease). PAD and CLI are both caused by a buildup of plaque in your arteries. And that buildup leads to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of your arteries.

CLI is a painful, chronic condition. It makes your feet or toes hurt, even when you’re resting. Advanced CLI may cause you to develop ulcers (sores that won’t heal) on your legs or feet. Some CLI patients even need amputations.

Symptoms of Critical Limb Ischemia

The best known CLI symptom is ischemic rest pain. This refers to the discomfort you feel in your legs and feet hurt when you stop moving. Ulcers on your feet and legs are also common. Other symptoms include pain or numbness in your feet. You may also notice shiny, dry and smooth skin on your legs or feet, as well as thickened toenails. A vein specialist may notice you’ve lost or lowered the pulse in your legs or feet. And, in severe cases, you may see gangrene (dry, black skin) on your legs or feet. 

Diagnosing and Treating CLI

The American Heart Association (AHA) emphasized the importance of diagnosing and treating CLI.

“Timely diagnosis and treatment is likely to preserve limb viability and improve quality of life,” Mark A. Creager, MD, past AHA president and director, explained to theheart.org. Reasons for a Vein Evaluation

Why? CLI affects an estimated 12 million adults in the United States, but diagnosing and managing the condition can be “challenging.” Moreover, strategies for perfusion assessment (testing your cardiovascular system’s ability to supply your tissue with enough blood flow) “remain limited,” according to Dr. Sanjay Misra of the Mayo Clinic. And evaluating limb perfusion is crucial because it speeds up the CLI diagnosis and prevents many invasive procedures.

What are the Latest CLI Guidelines?

Currently, the guidelines for diagnosing CLI tell physicians to look for ischemic rest pain, an ulcer, or the presence of gangrene for at least 2 weeks. Those symptoms, in combination with reduced blood flow (hypoperfusion) as measured by one of several tests (ankle-brachial index (ABI), ankle pressure, toe-brachial index (TBI), toe systolic pressure, transcutaneous oximetry (TcPo2), or skin perfusion pressure (SPP)) would indicate that a person has developed CLI.

Until now, vein specialists were been most likely to use the ankle-brachial index (ABI) to detect CLI. But under the new guidelines, the American Heart Association suggests that checking toe pressure will deliver a more accurate diagnosis.

Interestingly, the AHA also promotes experimental technologies for checking blood flow in your lower extremities, including a contrast-enhanced ultrasound like the kind we can provide in our Houston area vein clinics.

Regarding this kind of scan, the statement says: “New technologies offer potential opportunities to improve the precision and quality of CLI management,” helping detect and treat CLI at an earlier stage and reducing the number of amputations associated with this condition.

Sources: American Heart Association, health.ucdavis.edu

Move It Monday: Benefits of Walking Workouts

Are you ready to embrace the benefits of walking? We know that maintaining a regular (physician approved) exercise program can help you slow the progression of vein disease, while also lowering your risk of experiencing associated complications, but we also know that it can be tough to get started.

Frequent exercise, like taking walks, can help manage the pain of PAD

To help you get motivated, our Texas Endovascular Team regularly shares Move it Monday fitness inspiration! If you like it what you see, incorporate the workout in to your routine! Not your jam? Come back another time for more motivation!

On the schedule this week: A Beginner’s Walking Schedule, courtesy of VeryWellFit.com: Before beginning, check your posture to make sure your chin is up, you’re standing straight, and you’re not leaning forward or backward while you move. Walk at an easy pace for a few minutes before speeding up. Wear supportive shoes and comfy clothing. You can do your walking outdoors, indoors, or on a treadmill.

The Right Way to Begin a Walking Workout Program

In order to enjoy some of the benefits of walking, you actually have to get your body moving! Here’s a four-week plan for moving more and helping your body enjoy the results.

Week 1: Start with a daily 15-minute walk at an easy pace. Walk five days the first week. You want to build a habit, so consistency is important. Spread out your rest days, such as making day 3 a rest day and day 6 a rest day.

Weekly total goal: 60 to 75 minutes.

Week 2: Add five minutes a day so you are walking for 20 minutes, five days a week. Or, you may wish to extend yourself more on some days, followed by a rest day.

Weekly total goal: 75 to 100 minutes.

Week 3: Add five minutes a day so you are walking for 25 minutes, five days a week.

Weekly total goal: 100 to 125 minutes.

Week 4: Add five minutes a day to walk for 30 minutes, five days a week.

Weekly total goal: 125 to 150 minutes.

Snags: If you find any week to be difficult, repeat that week rather than adding more time. Do this until you are able to progress comfortably.

Benefits of Walking: Improve Your PAD Symptoms

Low impact workouts are a great choice for any one looking to increase your activity level. But, as vein specialists, we especially recommend walking to our PAD patients. That’s because PAD pain often pops up when you walk, making this simple-yet-crucial task very difficult.

Why is walking so hard when you have PAD? It’s because of atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up in your leg arteries. This plaque blocks oxygen and nutrients from getting to your legs when they fire up to get you moving. So, when you have PAD and you start moving, you may experience the pain of that oxygen deprivation.

But, even though PAD makes walking hurt, that very movement can help you manage PAD symptoms. The more you walk, the better your muscles learn to adapt to their limited blood supply. And, as your muscles adapt, you’ll be able to walk for longer periods before that PAD pain pops up and slows you down. angioplasty for PAD

That’s why walking programs like the one we just introduced can be helpful for PAD patients, helping improve , your muscle strength as well as your ability to balance and complete your daily tasks. Also, as your calf muscles get stronger, your circulation may improve. And, if you dramatically improve your lifestyle habits as you embrace more movement, you may stop PAD progression as you research more permanent treatment options. (See the image at right for one PAD treatment option.)

Now, your walking results won’t be instant: you may need to stick to the program for as long as three months before seeing symptom improvements. Now, as always, check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. If you have any questions about your ability to exercise with an endovascular condition, come in to our offices for a consultation with Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee.its of

 

Sources: www.verywellfit.com, Cardiosmart.org

What Should I do about Claudication?

We use the word claudication to describe muscle pain, cramps and a heavy, tired feeling in your legs. Soon after symptoms first appear, your  pain may radiate to your hips, feet or buttocks. But this pain isn’t random: it usually appears when you move and disappears with rest. Also, it’s usually a result of reduced blood flow to your lower limbs. For this reason, many patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) experience claudication.

 

How Does Claudication Progress?

Without treating the underlying cause of your claudication, your symptoms and flare ups will likely get worse over time. In the early stages of claudication, your symptoms may also include aching,       burning and heaviness. But the way you experience that pain will change over time.

At first, claudication causes a dull, aching pain in the lower calf. The initial pain or sensation can also travel to, or develop in, other muscle groups, such as your thigh, buttocks, hip or feet.

Now, these symptoms usually appear with muscle movement, like walking or exercise. So it’s easy to brush them off as the sign of pushing yourself too hard. This is especially true since, thankfully, they usually  resolve with a few minutes of rest. If, however, people continue exercising through the pain of claudication, they may experience a number of unpleasant symptoms. These include numbness, severe cramps, difficulty walking, cold skin and even soft tissue damage.

Usually, claudication only affects one leg; if it impacts both, symptoms are usually worse in one leg than the other. Over time, these symptoms typically become more severe. The only way to improve your condition is to treat the underlying cause.

Treating Claudication and PAD

At Texas Endovascular, treating PAD with state of the art, minimally invasive procedures. Most of our treatments— which include Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy–don’t require an overnight hospital stay. Using these methods, we prevent the need for surgery in most cases, often allowing our patients to go home the same day as their procedure.

During your procedure, one of our Houston area vein specialists will insert a small IV and wire through your groin,  gaining access to a blood vessel. From there, we use imaging to guide that wire into a position where it can impact your affected artery. Depending on the progression of your PAD, we will use a balloon to widen the blood vessel (angioplasty) or a stent to hold it open; both options will increase blood flow to your lower extremities, and should relieve your claudication symptoms.

Sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine

 

Is medical glue a good varicose vein treatment?

When we see patients for varicose vein treatment in our Houston area vein centers, they’re often a symptom of venous insufficiency. That’s a condition that can cause more serious health issues. In other words, varicose veins can be dangerous and unattractive. So treating these bulging, prominent veins is more than just a cosmetic decision: it’s imperative to your overall health.

Once you’ve decided to treat varicose veins, the question remains: what method will serve you best?

Procedures to get rid of varicose veins have come a long way, and, today, you’ve got many different options. At one time, patients with vein disease weren’t so lucky. Some chose a procedure commonly known as “vein stripping,” which was an inpatient surgery requiring general anesthesia, hospital admission, and a long, painful recovery period. Even worse, patients had to take off time from work or school while they healed! Thankfully, those days are behind us! In our office we offer a range of minimally invasive varicose vein treatments.

And we’re constantly watching the news for treatment develops. Recently, one option involving medical glue, was approved by the NHS in the UK. So, today, we wanted to discuss the effectiveness of this treatment.

Medical Glue and Varicose Veins Reasons for a Vein Evaluation

As we mentioned before, varicose veins are a symptom of a blood flow problem. When your valves fail, that allows blood to flow backwards, instead of going against gravity and returning to your heart. As the blood sticks around your lower extremities, those veins in your legs get stretched, bulging and becoming visible through your skin.

That’s where a medical glue product called VenaSeal is introduced. Using a small catheter, the glue is inserted into your vein to stop your blood from flowing backwards into your legs. A local anesthetic is often used alongside the glue to prevent any pain. The glue basically stops up the faulty vein so it can’t continue to cause problems.

While VenaSeal can be effective, there are some factors that may impact its usefulness: the glue has to be inserted into just the right spot, or backflow may continue. Additionally, it has not yet been cleared for use in pregnant women, and long term safety studies are still in the works.

Sclerotherapy and Ablation for Varicose Veins

Looking for an alternative to VenaSeal? Sclerotherapy is a great option using an ultrasound to access your varicose vein, under the skin, with a very small needle. Next, we mix medication with carbon dioxide gas to create a foam that we inject directly into the abnormal vein, closing it permanently. We recommend sclerotherapy for veins that aren’t yet bulging.

Now, for bulging varicose veins, radiofrequency vein ablation may be a better option. RFA is also a minimally invasive procedure involving the insertion of a catheter into your abnormal vein. We then supply it with heat energy, closing the vein permanently. Want the best news? We can perform RFA with just a local anesthetic. It is a virtually painless procedure that leaves virtually no scar. The procedure takes less than an hour to perform and patients can resume normal activities immediately afterwards.

Before proceeding with radiofrequency ablation, or any other varicose vein treatment, your Houston vein specialists will perform a thorough medical examination, including a diagnostic ultrasound evaluation, to determine whether the procedure is appropriate for you. To find out the best treatment option for your medical reality, schedule your consult today!

 

Sources: Expert Review of Medical Devices, NHS.UK

 

What’s the Best Varicose Vein Treatment?

When you have bulging, painful varicose veins, you want them gone, but you need to know what’s the best varicose vein treatment? Clearly, there are many different ways to address this visible symptom of vein disease. But, if you are  wondering what treatment will deliver the fastest relief with few complications, we’re here to help. And here’s the good news! Researchers in the UK also wondered what’s the best varicose vein treatment? That’s why they conducted a study, comparing the results of surgical and non-surgical varicose vein treatments. And we’re guessing you’ll be pleased by what they discovered!

Is Varicose Vein Surgery Better Than Other Treatments?

The results were from a CLASS (Comparison of Laser, Surgery and Foam Sclerotherapy) study. Of all the treatments they explored, two non-surgical treatments are ones we provide in our Houston area vein clinics. These include Foam Sclerotherapy and Laser Ablation.

And the study didn’t just look at immediate impact. Instead, researchers compared the treatment’s long-term results with surgery. With sclerotherapy, we inject your abnormal vein with a substance that gradually causes its collapse. With ablation, we use bursts of laser light to collapse your vein. Both are minimally invasive procedures.

For this study, researchers followed 800 varicose vein patients treated between 2008 and 2012. At the end of five years, patients  answered questions about their quality of life, the financial cost and their willingness to recommend the treatment to others.

Almost all of participants were happy with their results. Nearly all participants reported feeling better after treatment. And most participants would undergo and recommend the same treatment again.

Researchers also discovered that ablation and surgery delivered slightly better results than sclerotherapy. They found ablation was the most cost-effective option. And, though it wasn’t mentioned in the study, here’s something vein specialists know: sclerotherapy and ablation come with less down time and fewer complications than surgery.

With these findings, the study—and our blog post—gets a happy ending. Even though many people get varicose vein surgery, you don’t have to. And that’s because non-surgical treatments deliver great results: at a lower cost and, typically, without hospital stays!

When Should You Treat Varicose Veins?

Now you know what’s the best varicose vein treatment, you’ve got to know: when should you get them treated. And the answer is: now: Why? Here are 5 reasons to treat varicose veins immediately:

1. To treat the root cause of vein disease

Before starting any vein treatment, Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee will always perform a comprehensive ultrasound evaluation. This allows them to diagnose underlying chronic venous insufficiency, which is the improper functioning of valves in the vein. It also means that all of the diseased veins can be treated. The perforator (connector) diseased veins are just as important to treat as the varicose veins near the surface of the skin.

2. To improve symptoms that are impacting your daily life

Varicose veins can cause persistent and annoying symptoms that can impact your quality of life and signal that vein treatment is necessary. Symptoms of varicose veins can include tiredness, heaviness, achiness, pain, cramps, burning, stinging, itchiness, or a feeling of restlessness in your legs. More serious symptoms, including spontaneous bleeding from veins or recurrent skin infections, should be treated immediately. After varicose vein treatment, underlying symptoms will improve quickly over time.

3. To get rid of the look of varicose veins

Swollen, bulging, and rope-like veins are the most visible sign of venous insufficiency that can be resolved with our treatments. Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee will remove the bulging veins through tiny incisions or inject medication to close the varicose vein so that it shrinks over time and is no longer noticeable.

4. To find out how to prevent future varicose veins

The primary cause of varicose veins are things outside of your control such as family history, age, gender, and family history. However, our doctors can provide advice to prevent vein disease from getting worse. Also, you can help prevent new varicose veins from forming by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. Now, you may also avoid clothes and shoes that reduce circulation, choose to quit smoking and wear compression stockings to further reduce your risk.

Our specialists at Texas Endovascular will provide recommendations for making lifestyle changes that can help minimize the occurrence of varicose veins.

5. To know if this could be a sign of other health conditions

Studies have shown that having varicose veins can be a sign of increased risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a serious blood clot that is usually in the leg, as well as pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a blood clot that travels to the lungs. Having varicose veins is also linked to peripheral artery disease (PAD), a circulatory issue that results in reduced blood flow to the limbs.

Schedule an evaluation today!

Sources: The New England Journal of Medicine

Check out 9 Reasons Why Your Feet Swell

In our Houston area vein clinics, we see many people with peripheral edema—which is swelling of your feet and ankles due to fluid build-up–who ask why do my feet swell? Most of the patients we see for edema have fluid trapped in the soft tissues of their legs, and this buildup is due to malfunctioning valves in their veins.

But where does that fluid come from? It seeps out of your small blood vessels and collects in nearby tissue. Then, your sodium (salt) and water levels increase.

Next, your kidneys respond by circulating more blood around your body; this only starts a cycle that can lead to more leaking fluid and increased swelling.  Now, when things are working properly, your lymphatic system should get rid of that excess fluid, but when it isn’t up to the challenge, you’ll notice fluid build up.

If you have swollen legs or feet, the edema could be a symptom of vein disease: when the valves in your leg veins weaken or fail, the blood can no longer be pumped properly out of your legs. This causes blood and fluid to stick around and, as the fluid builds up, your leg may begin to swell—hence, edema.

Now this is the primary cause of swelling in a vein clinic, but other factors may leave you with edema as well. However, if your legs are swollen and you don’t know why, you need to take action. First, rule out the causes we’re about to review. And if none of those make sense, come and see us for a diagnostic vein ultrasound. Because, even now, even in the time of COVID-19, it’s just not safe to ignore your vein health.

9 Reasons Your Feet Swell That Aren’t Vein Disease

Already ruled out these potential causes? It’s time to see your vein doc. Otherwise, check and see if:

  1. Your Feet Swell After a Long Flight or Drive

    As it turns out, you can develop vein-disease like symptoms from sitting too long. That’s because your veins get less effective at pushing blood up to your heart, allowing it to pool and making your feet swell up. Why? The problem is sitting: it limits your muscle contractions, making it harder for blood to move. But the position also pushes on your veins, which further reduces the blood flow…and, voila, edema!

  2. Your Feet Swell Because you’re Sedentary

    When you don’t exercise, your circulatory system can become compromised. Especially if you’re also carrying extra weight around. Bring those two factors together, and swollen feet and legs may be the result.

  3. You’ve Been Slamming Salty Snacks

    This cause of edema actually has nothing to do with your blood flow. Plain and simple—salt makes you retain water. And if that water sticks around your feet and legs, they get swollen!

  4. You’re Hurt

    When you’re dealing with injuries in your feet or ankles—whether it’s an acute issue like a sprain or fracture, or an overuse injury like shin splints—swelling may ensue. And while this may look like edema, the symptom is completely unrelated, and will only disappear when your underlying injury is treated.

  5. You’re Taking A New Medication

    Some medications can cause fluid retention or swelling in your legs, ankles or feet. So if your edema appears shortly after starting a new drug—especially for conditions like high blood pressure—check in with your prescribing doctor to see if the two are connected.

  6. You’re Developing a DVT

    In the beginning stages of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), your legs are sore and often swollen. Remember, a DVT is a blood clot in your deep leg veins, and it’s a medical emergency. That’s because if your clot breaks free and travels to your lungs (pulmonary embolism), your condition becomes life-threatening. Therefore, if you have any DVT risk factors (long air travel, pregnancy, smoking, taking oral birth control or medical history of clotting) and your feet swell, see your vein specialist immediately.

  7. You’ve Got Arthritis

    Your joints are inflamed when you have arthritis. And, sometimes, this inflammation causes swelling, especially around your ankles or big toe (gout.) If you’ve noticed localized swelling and feel stiff or achy, you should consult with a joint specialist as soon as possible.

  8. Heart or Kidney Problems are Brewing

    As we mentioned earlier, your kidney play a role in regulating fluid buildup in your body. When they aren’t functioning properly, they are unable to remove excess fluid, and you may develop edema. Similarly, when your heart isn’t working effectively, it can’t sufficiently pump blood around your body, allowing pressure to build up in your blood vessels. This can trigger the type of leaking fluid we initially discussed. And it’s why swollen feet and ankles are a common symptom of congestive heart failure, and hypertensive heart disease.

  9. Liver Disease

    When your liver is diseased, your hormone levels are impacted, as are the chemicals in your body which regulate fluids. Therefore, you may retain fluid and notice swollen feet and ankles with liver disease.

 

Now we’ve thoroughly explored non-vascular edema triggers. So, we have to remind you: lots of times, this symptom is an indication of problems in your veins. And that means that, if you’ve got swollen legs and you’re not sure why, go and see an experienced vein specialist to get a diagnosis.

Sources: Foot Pain Explored

Here’s How Cocoa and Vitamin K Help PAD

You guys, guess what? Researchers have discovered that drinking hot cocoa could help improve your gait if you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD.) And that’s not all: science also suggests that Vitamin K1 (not K2) can lower your risk for developing PAD, or other types of coronary disease. Now, PAD is a serious condition that sets in when athelosclerosis (hardened arteries) limit blood flow to your lower limbs. And one of the worst PAD symptoms is sudden pain with walking, so we’re excited about preventing PAD, but we’re also excited about this tasty discovery regarding symptom relief! Let’s take a closer look.

Flavanols: Cocoa’s Secret Super Powerchoco

First things first: let’s clear up our cocoa discussion. Cocoa is rich in flavonols, which is why it can help PAD patients. But not all cocoa is created equally. As study author Mary McGrae McDermott explains, “A large amount of chocolate available without a prescription is alkalized, which improves taste [but destroys] the beneficial cocoa flavanols that have therapeutic effects.”

What does that mean? You need powder with more than 85% cocoa content to get health benefits. Simply grabbing some Nesquick at the super market just won’t cut it—even though your cocoa will probably taste pretty great.

Still, the right kind of cocoa has lots of healing properties. According to the study, cocoa flavanols, including epicatechin, “have therapeutic properties that can improve performance when walking in people with PAD.” More specifically, cocoa can help target therapy directly to your legs (limb perfusion) and improve cell and muscle regeneration in your legs. Finally, McDermott notes, previous studies have also discovered that blood flow and muscle health improve with cocoa consumption.

Now we know why cocoa is such a valuable ingredient, let’s take a closer look at how you can leverage cocoa to improve your PAD symptoms.

How Cocoa Helps Fight PAD

The purpose of this study was to see if cocoa could help PAD patients walk longer distances before experiencing leg pain. And, happily, it did! To reach their findings, McDermott’s team studied 44 patients aged 60 and older. Every day, participants drank either cocoa or a placebo drink. By the end of the study period, cocoa drinkers found it much easier to walk for six minutes, as compared to their placebo-drinking counterparts. People who drank three cups a day saw the best results.

In presenting her findings, McDermott explained, “Our study showed better health in the blood flow to the legs, improvements in the 6-minute walking distance and also improved the health of the calf skeletal muscle. Since people with PAD have difficulty walking due to blood flow problems, we think that this particular therapy can be particularly beneficial.”

While these findings are certainly exciting—for our taste buds and our symptom management—don’t start planning to ditch your meds. As mentioned, you’d have to have the exact cocoa makeup included in the study. Plus, while cocoa can help with symptom relief, it’s unlikely to clear up your underlying disease trigger. So, by all means, talk to your doctor about including cocoa in your diet. But don’t give up on any of your other PAD medications. And be sure to explore PAD treatment options with your Houston area vein specialists—real relief could be available, and sooner than you think.

Sources: Journal of Circulation Research, Nutraingredients.com, British Medical Journal

Staying Home Ups DVT Risk: Here’s What to Do.

You develop deep vein thrombosis (deep vein thrombosis ()DVT) when a blood clot forms in one of your deep veins. (This usually occurs in your legs). And DVT is a serious problem, more dangerous than other blood clots. Why? Because it comes with a high risk of recurrence, death, or chronic symptoms like pain and swelling.

But why do you develop DVT in the first place? Many factors contribute to this problem, but lack of movement is a big contributor (that’s why your DVT risk is high on long flights.) And, as we stay home more, limiting our activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, that could be a problem. Especially if you already have vein disease.

Thankfully, even taking a walk outside, and limiting your salty snacks, could help reduce your water retention and lower your DVT risk. Plus, we have several new and proven ways to treat your DVT. So just keep reading to learn more about what your life will look like, even if you develop a DVT.

New Microchip Predicts DVT Risk

Researchers at Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering have developed a miniaturized version a human vein called the Vein-Chip device. And they believe it will help doctors predict your DVT risk.

Basically, the Vein-Chip allows researchers to test various risk factors, including gender, race, ethnicity and more, to see how they impact DVT risk. The hope is that this technology will help our fellow vein specialists personalize your DVT treatment protocols.

Lead study author Abhishek Jain, Ph.D  and his team have already made an important discovery that may impact post DVT treat. Basically, they found that when you’re healthy, and your blood flow slows down, your body may try to adapt by releasing anti-clotting factors. This adaptation only happens within your vein pocket, which suggests that we should deliver clot dissolving medications directly to your affected areas.

That’s one exciting development in DVT prevention and treatment protocols. Now let’s explore some other key findings.

What’s the Best Treatment Plan after a DVT?

According to a study published in the journal Blood, people with DVT can easily cut their risk of complications. How? It’s simple: just start compression therapy within 24 hours. compression socks

The study explored whether compression therapy could prevent residual vein occlusion and post thrombotic syndrome. What do those terms means? Residual vein occlusion is when clots stay in your veins, with or without symptoms. That’s a big deal, since it likely contributes to  post-thrombotic syndrome, which is just a collection of symptoms. These include pain, swelling, discoloration and leg scaling.

For this study, 600 DVT patients in the Netherlands received compression therapy within 24 hours of their diagnosis. Next, they were compared to patients that started that compression therapy later on. In addition to their compression therapy, all patients received anti-clotting medications.

What researchers found was promising: Patients who got immediate compression therapy were 20% less likely to develop residual vein occlusion and 8% less likely to suffer post-thrombotic syndrome compared with those who delayed compression.

Even better news? Compression therapy was not associated with any adverse side effects. And while all DVT patients appeared to benefit from compression, those with clots lower down in the leg enjoyed the greatest results.

Study author Dr. ten Cate-Hoek says, “Although the use of compression stockings after DVT is routine across much of Europe, it is less common in the United States, where guidelines emphasize compression primarily for patients who complain of ongoing symptoms…Given these outcomes, and that compression stockings are fairly easy to self-administer, relatively inexpensive, and minimally intrusive, compression therapy offers a clear benefit for all patients with DVT.”

Sources: Medical Dialogues, Blood Journal,

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