Category: COVID-19

The Dos and Don’ts of Exercise and Varicose Veins

Let’s talk about exercise and varicose veins. We all know that exercise is good for your general health. But when vein disease gives you varicose veins, some exercises will help you, while others can hurt your condition. Usually, exercising more will make your veins bigger. That’s because they have to send all that pumping blood back to your heart. And, evidence suggests that the more you exercise, the healthier your veins will be as well. Basically, exercise gets your blood pumping, so it flows up your vein faster. That creates “shear stress” on your vein wall. Which causes vein wall cells to secrete nitric oxide. This is a chemical that preserves your vein wall health. So, for the most part, exercise is key to improving your vein health.

In certain cases, however, exercises may cause vein problems. Especially if you already have varicose veins. Want to get your veins healthy the right way? Read on for our ‘dos’ and don’ts’ of exercising with varicose veins. Please note that we recognize many readers will currently be avoiding the gym, so we’ve included recommendations for great, at-home exercise options.

The Best Exercises for Varicose Vein Sufferers

First things first: if you have vein disease, talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. (If you’re planning to start a new routine right now, we can help get you cleared in office or with a Telemedicine appointment on the secure Doxy platform.) Once you’re cleared for activity, our Houston area vein specialists recommend starting with low-impact workouts like walking, bicycling or swimming.

Why are these great choices? First of all, you can try any of these activities while following social distancing guidelines. Plus, we like vein disease sufferers to use their legs. When you do, you strengthen those muscles, making them contract harder  and helping push blood out of your legs and back up to your heart.

In other words, stronger calf muscles make for better circulation. And that means you’re likely to experience pooling blood and other complications associated with venous insufficiency.

And, in addition to circulatory benefits, you can expect to see other positive effects:  your will likely lose weight, lower your blood sugar levels and keep your blood pressure down, helping improve your vein health—and keeping the rest of your body in tip-top shape.

Varicose Vein Warnings for Cyclists

While bicycling is a good vein health exercise, be careful about extended cycling routines. Serious bicyclists are more vulnerable to a kind of varicose vein known as a perforator vein. Perforator veins take blood through your muscles to your deep veins, where it goes back up to your heart. Your legs have about 150 perforator veins, and their valves come under pressure when you bike. Why?biking exercise for varicose veins

Serious cycling puts lots of pressure on your calf muscles. It starts when you push pedals. Then, it causes huge pressure in your leg, which should cause your blood to push back to your heart. That’s why vein specialists often recommend bike riding as a good exercise for varicose veins.

Unfortunately, in some cases that pressure is too much for your valves, causing them to fail. While we don’t know exactly why this happens, studies suggest it could be a result of hunched postures or other contributing factors.

Want to prevent cycling complications? Just use caution when you bike ride. Try to practice good posture, and don’t push yourself too hard, especially if you already have varicose veins. After all, studies still suggest that your potential vein benefits outweigh the chance of popping a valve. So just proceed with caution and follow your doctor’s advice.

What Workouts Should I Avoid if I have Varicose Veins?

When you have varicose veins, some workouts might actually worsen your condition. We tell our patients to avoid exercises like lifting weights, squatting, or even some yoga poses. So now’s not the time for a new, at-home yoga routine. Without the guidance of an instructor, it will be hard to make vein-safe modifications.

Here’s why: Anything that increases pressure on your abdomen and lower body is not recommended, since it can reduce or stop the amount of blood flowing from your legs back to your heart. That, in turn, may allow blood to pool in your legs, causing your veins to stretch out and, possibly, fail.

It’s also important to know that high impact exercises, such as running and jogging, may cause your varicose veins to swell more, although wearing compression stockings and sticking to soft training surfaces can help lessen the impact of this form of exercise. But walking is always a great, lower impact option!

When Should I Treat my Varicose Veins?

Contrary to what you may have heard, varicose veins are more than just a cosmetic concern. They are a sign that something has gone seriously wrong within your circulatory system. For that reason, you should see a vein specialist as soon as you notice a vein that’s getting darker or sticking out above the profile of your skin, even if our initial consult is remote. The earlier we catch and treat varicose veins, the less likely it is that your vein disease will be able to progress. So please reach out today and request a Telemedicine or in-office visit.

Sources: 220 Triathlon, Mayo Clinic, Cardiology and Cardiovascular 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

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,

Move it Monday: The Real Deal on 10,000 Steps

Ready for your weekly movement motivation? We all know that exercise is crucial for our health. And, as your Houston vein specialists, we want you to know that movement—especially walking—is great for your veins.

But what about walking 10,000 steps a day? That number gets floated around a lot right now. It’s the target for every FitBit user out there, and the subject of much debate. So what does that mean for people who can’t get in 10,000 steps. Is more better? Is less worthless? Here’s what you need to know about walking, your overall health and, specifically, your vein health.

Why is Walking so Good for You?

Walking carries so many potential benefits. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Walk your way to weight loss.

Even though it’s low-impact, walking is still a great form of cardiovascular exercise. You burn calories when you walk, helping support your weight goals. And, because it won’t put much pressure on your joints, it’s an accessible exercise option for many people. And you start enjoying the benefits of walking with even a few minutes each day, so you don’t need to hit 10,000 steps a day to get benefits.

2. Walking can reduce the appearance of varicose veins

When you walk, you’re doing important work for your veins. Why is walking so important? Your venous system is made up of the muscles, veins, and valves you find in your calf and foot. When functioning properly, these components work together to push blood from your legs up to your heart. But they need to be strong in order to work properly, since stronger muscle contractions give the push your blood needs to flow against gravity.

Now, walking is a great way to strengthen the muscles in your calves, since it targets those specific muscles. Just the simple activity of walking also helps push blood up and out of your legs. This helps prevent the type of pooling which can cause your veins to bulge. Already have varicose veins? Here’s the good news: walking can help ease some of the swelling and pain you may experience already. Ideally, you’d walk for at least 30 minutes a time, which is likely short of 10,000 steps but is still a great place to start.

Can you Enjoy Walking Benefits without Hitting 10,000 Steps?

Of course! 10,000 steps a day is a great target number to hit, but it’s not the only way to win your fitness routine. Think of it like your diet: you should try to make good choices all the time, but even eating well one day a week is still a great start toward your health goals.

In fact, a study in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested that taking as few as 4400 steps each day reduced your risk for premature death by 41% when compared to taking 2500 steps a day. And you could get those steps in any way you want—power walking, strolling, or even just walking around your house and cleaning up.

 

So, what does that suggest to all of us? When it comes to movement and walking, more is likely better. But anything you do is likely to have a positive impact on your general health. So, how can you take more steps each day, especially in this time of limited excursions? Check out our tips for adding steps to your daily counting goals.

 

3 Easy Ways to Take More Steps Each Day

1.       Choose to move

If you’re driving to an appointment, park farther away from the entrance. If you’re going up a few floors in a building, take the stairs instead of the elevator (and score some bonus social distancing points!) Need the kids to come inside now? Call out to them instead of just shouting from your front porch (your neighbors will also be pleased, we’re guessing.) In short, look for opportunities to build movement into your daily routine. And take those opportunities when you find them!

 

2. Ring the alarm

When you’re stuck working from home, or even if you get to go back to your office, it can be easy to stay glued to one spot. Don’t let this happen! Instead, set a reminder on your phone or watch for regular intervals: every 15 minutes, 30 minutes or even every hour. And when that reminder goes off, don’t press snooze: instead, get up and move. Walk to the kitchen for a drink of water, walk the stairs in your building—just do something that keeps your blood pumping in those legs for at least 5 minutes.

3. Don’t get defeated

One final thought on those 10,000 steps: there’s nothing wrong with setting movement goals for yourself. But don’t get defeated if you don’t hit those goals, and give up entirely. Instead, try to set the bar to an attainable goal at first, gradually working your way up to 10,000 steps or beyond. Just be sure to clear any new fitness routine with your doctor before you get started, in order to prevent any complications.

Sources: JAMA Internal Medicine

DVT, Pregnancy and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in the deep veins of your body. Deep veins are exactly what they sound like: they are situated deep inside your body, much farther away from your skin’s surface than other veins. Because the veins are not visible, a clot could form unnoticed. And if it doesn’t get treated, it could break free from its initial position, travelling through the circulatory system and ending up in other parts of your body. If that happens, you could be facing a life-threatening medical emergency, especially if the clot travels to your lungs (also known as a pulmonary embolism.)

Many factors can elevate your risk of DVT, including long plane flights, surgery and your age.

Today, we also know that COVID-19 increases your risk for blood clots and DVT, even if your initial symptoms were relatively mild.

Of course, right now, pregnancy already feels frightening. You may be worried about delivering during the times of Coronavirus, and we aren’t here to scare you.

Still, in this post, we’re going to look at the connection between pregnancy and your risk for DVT, so you can help protect your vein health during this very different time. When you are pregnant, the blood-clotting factors in your body fluctuate, making clotting more likely. In fact, most pregnant women have a DVT rate that is five-times higher than when they are not expecting. And this elevated risk is a very big deal: DVT is one of the leading killers for pregnant women; your DVT risk is highest in your third trimester and for the first week after delivering your baby.

So, now that you understand your DVT risk during pregnancy, let’s examine the ways in which we can protect your health.

 

Managing Your DVT Risk During Pregnancy

If you already had a history of blood clots before getting pregnant, your doctor may suggest taking blood thinners while you are expecting. But if you are an otherwise-healthy woman, making smart lifestyle choices during pregnancy can help manage your risk for DVT. Following a healthy diet, and preventing gestational diabetes, can help lower your DVT risk, since being overweight can also increase your likelihood for DVT. Sticking to a regular, doctor-approved exercise program can also help lower your risk for DVT. Of course, there are never guarantees when it comes to clot prevention. So, if you are pregnant and concerned about clotting, we invite you to discuss your DVT risk with one of our Houston-area vein specialists! Concerned about coming to the office for an in-person visit? Don’t worry: we offer Telemedicine appointments for your comfort and safety.

 

Sources: Journal Radiology,

Does PAD Look Different in Men and Women?

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) occurs when plaque in your arteries slows the flow of blood from your heart to the rest of your body. That ‘plaque’ is mostly composed of cholesterol, calcium, fibrin, and fatty substances. As it collects in your arteries, they narrow and harden (Atherosclerosis). And, as the rest of your body gets limited blood flow, they aren’t able to function optimally.  Some people with PAD will experience symptoms right away. Others won’t know they have a problem in the early stages of this disease. And, even when PAD does cause symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose, since these symptoms often mimic those of other conditions. Of course, there’s one more issue that can make it difficult to treat diagnose PAD: the disease may look different in men than in women. Let’s take a closer look.

What are the Symptoms of PAD?

As we mentioned, you could have PAD and not experience any symptoms. Still, all of the following are considered PAD symptoms. If you experience one or more of these issues, you should talk to your vein specialists right away. Symptoms of PAD include coldness or numbness of the legs and feet, discoloration in the legs, cramping of the hips, thighs, or calf muscles and difficulty in healing from minor wounds of the legs or feet.

You may also notice burning or aching sensations of the feet, poor toenail growth, pain while or soon after walking, slowed hair growth on the legs. In men, you may even see erectile dysfunction,

Now that we’ve reviewed PAD presentations for both genders, let’s explore some of the different ways the disease manifests by gender.

What Does PAD Look Like for Men vs. Women?

Men seem to develop PAD symptoms earlier than women, although that is not always the case. As a result, male PAD patients may see their doctors sooner, allowing for earlier interventions and improved treatment outcomes.

Because women with PAD tend to get later PAD diagnoses, they also appear to develop more simultaneous chronic conditions (comorbidities). Even so, in patients with PAD and diabetes, male patients are more likely to face limb loss due to amputation.

Why is PAD so Dangerous?

Since your arteries are narrowed by PAD, and your blood isn’t flowing as it should, a blood clot can form on the surface of your plaque build-up, creating a potentially life-threatening situation if that clot travels to your lungs. It’s also possible for a piece of plaque to break off and completely cut off your blood flow, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

But wait, there’s still more: because PAD affects blood flow to your limbs, if PAD goes untreated long enough, you may develop gangrene in one or more of your limbs (gangrene is the term for the death of body tissue due to lack of blood flow or serious infection.)[i] And if you develop gangrene, you will face partial or full limb amputation. Clearly, treating PAD is crucial to your long-term health.

How Can I Treat PAD?

We can easily diagnose PAD in our office, using a bedside test called an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI). During this procedure, we use ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs to evaluate the circulation in your arms and legs. If your results aren’t what we want to see, we may order further imaging tests such as Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) or Computed Tomography (CT) to determine the extent of your problem and to help us plan your treatment.

At Texas Endovascular Associates, we are passionate about treating patients who suffer from PAD. We use the most up to date, state of the art equipment available to treat your disease. Using minimally invasive procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay, our team provides treatments such as Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy. In that way, we’re often able to spare you from more invasive, open surgeries. In fact, many of our PAD patients get discharged the same day as their procedure, facing minimal recovery time once they get home!

If you’re experiencing PAD symptoms, don’t wait for a consultation. We can even begin your treatment process via Telemedicine, although you will have to come to the office for a final diagnosis. And, if you’ve already been diagnosed with PAD, it is important that you not delay treatment. Doing so can allow your disease to progress, raising your risk of fatal complications.

 

Sources: Mayoclinic.org, MDmag.com

[i] Mayoclinic.org. “Gangrene.”

What You Need to Know about Zinc, Leg Ulcers and COVID-19

During this COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve been hearing a lot more about the importance of Zinc in your diet.  This is what we know: zinc is a trace element which your immune systems needs to function properly. In fact, zinc is considered a type 2 nutrient because it’s a necessary part of your body’s general metabolism (other type 2 nutrients include protein and magnesium.) So, if you have a zinc deficiency, you’ll be at a higher risk for infections, diseases and viruses like COVID-19.

But supporting immunity isn’t zinc’s only important job. In fact, this little element plays many roles in your body. And a little of it goes a long way: your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men.

It’s entirely possible to get your daily zinc dose from your diet (more on that shortly.) Otherwise, talk to your doctor about starting a zinc supplement.

Still waiting to be sold on zinc? Let’s take a closer look at two of its numerous function: supporting immunity and wound healing.

How Does Zinc Regulate Immunity?

Without zinc, our body can’t activate its T lymphocytes (T cells). And we need those T cells for two jobs: controlling and regulating our body’s immune response, and attacking cells that are infected or even cancerous.

What does that all mean for you? If you don’t get enough zinc, your immune system just won’t work the way it should. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals, “zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”

Now, those pathogens range from severe infections to conditions like a common cold. Which is why, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal, zinc supplementation could shorten your cold experience by as much as 40%. Plus, it could make your symptoms less severe while you’re still under the weather. It’s not so surprising, then, that zinc can also help your body heal leg ulcers, a common symptom of vein disease.

How Zinc Helps Heal Your Wounds

Before we explain why zinc can help heal your leg ulcers, let’s review why you might develop this kind of wound. When you have chronic vein problems, you may develop non-healing ulcers or open sores on your lower legs. Also called venous ulcers, they usually develop around your ankle, varying in size from very small to several inches in diameter.

What’s the connection between these two issues? Chronic vein disease causes a progressive inflammatory reaction in your body, and that damages your capillaries and lymphatic ducts. After that damage, fluid leaks into the tissues of your lower legs, causing swelling and depositing hemoglobin in your lower leg tissue.

But that’s not all—capillary damage also decreases your lower leg’s oxygen levels, which translates to poor wound healing and ulcers.

We treat venous ulcers with compression therapy and wound care, while also treating your underlying vein condition. And now we know that zinc could help speed up your healing. Why?

One of zinc’s jobs is to maintain your skin’s health. In fact, you may be more susceptible to leg ulcers if you have a zinc deficiency.  As such, some studies suggest that applying zinc to your wounds could help speed healing, but further research is required before this becomes our primary treatment protocol.

How Can I Add Zinc to my Diet Naturally?

Beans, animal proteins, nuts, fish and seafood are all good sources of zinc. You can also get zinc from whole grain cereals, and dairy products. Top choices for zinc include fortified cereals, Pacific raw oysters, canned baked beans, cooked green peas, yogurt, pecans, lean ground beef and roasted peanuts.

Luckily, you’ve got lots of tasty ways to get your recommended daily zinc intake from diet alone. If, however, you feel you may have a zinc insufficiency, you may consider supplementation. Zinc supplements come in capsule and tablet form.

Keep in mind, however, that too much zinc can also cause problems in your body. So talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet. And, if you’re dealing with a leg ulcer right now, don’t delay treatment—regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak, you must stick with your follow up ulcer appointments. Failure to do so could even result in amputation!

But don’t worry. If you’re uncomfortable coming into our Houston vein clinics, you can still stick to your leg ulcer treatment protocol. In fact, we’ve found that Telemedicine for leg ulcer follow ups is very effective. So take control of your health, and request your appointment today.

Sources: Medical News Today, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Open Respiratory Medicine Journal

Here’s Why the Pandemic is Extra Risky for PAD Patients

We’re all stressed right now. Because, whether you’ve lost your job, are working on the front lines, or are adjusting to a new work-from-home setup, work stress is constant. That’s not good for anyone. But, according to a new evidence published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, it’s especially problematic for people with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Let’s take a closer look at these results. Then, we’ll determine what your next steps should be if you’re living with or at risk for PAD.

What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

First, a review: PAD is a cardiovascular problem. It develops when cholesterol or plaque (fatty substances in your blood) build up in your blood vessels, preventing blood flow. Typically, we see this accumulation in your legs, which contain some of the vessels farthest away from your heart—at the periphery of your body, hence the name.

Initially, PAD can be hard to diagnose, since many symptoms are subtle, or mimic other complications. Still, if you experience changes in your skin color, hair loss on your legs and, most especially, leg pain when you walk, you may have PAD.

Even at the best of times, PAD is a serious condition. Left untreated, it elevates your risk of heart attack and/or stroke. So, treatment is always crucial. But, according to these new study results, treating your PAD at this moment is even more important. Why? Researchers discovered that PAD patients who experience work-related stress are more likely to require hospitalization.

Why Stress Worsens PAD Symptoms

For the purposes of this new study, work-related stress encompasses both psychological and social pressure. Typically, this stress results from a loss of personal control, combined with high on-the-job expectations. And let’s face it: many of us are dealing with both of these issues during this period of quarantine and COVID-19.

What happens when PAD patients get stressed on the job? After examining records from 139,000 men and women between the ages of 39 to 49 years, researchers discovered that 667 of the participants entered the hospital  because of PAD complications.

And, after factoring in other health issues and lifestyle choices, the researchers discovered work-related stress increased the risk of PAD-related hospitalization by 1.4 times.  Lead study author Katriina Heikkilä explains, “Our findings suggest that the work-related stress could be a risk factor for peripheral arterial disease in a similar way as it is for heart disease and stroke.“

While the exact connection is unknown, stress is associated with an increase in inflammation and blood sugar levels. As such, it could contribute to PAD complications. In a big way: 25% of the patients who were hospitalized for the first time, reported work related stress when the study began.

Maintaining Your Health During Stressful Times

What does all of this mean for you, as a PAD patient? Well, first of all, try to manage your stress levels: prioritize movement, mindfulness and daily self-care. But, in times like these, stress may keep on coming. Still, that, doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself from hospitalization. What, then, is the key to your safety? Staying on top of your PAD treatment protocol, and getting regular check-ins with your arterial specialist. Don’t feel comfortable coming into our office? No problem. In recognition of the current pandemic, we are proud to offer Telemedicine appointments for PAD patients. So stay safe, and stay well, with your Houston PAD specialists.

Sources: Journal of the American Heart Association

Why Should I Worry About Varicose Veins Right Now?

Right now, we are in an unprecedented medical moment. We know that you, our patients, are making tough choices: stay home and live with existing problems, like varicose veins. Or seek treatment but risk exposure to a frightening virus?

For starters, we’re here to tell you, we offer Telemedicine vein care. It’s just one way we’re helping you stay home and stay safe. Because, treating non-COVID-19 medical problems is a major part of staying safe at home. Why is that the case? Here’s what you need to know about varicose veins. Especially about what happens if you delay or forego vein treatment.

Are Varicose Veins a Threat to Your Health?

We often hear people saying that varicose veins are unattractive, but no big deal. Which is why we’re here to tell you: that’s just not true!

If you can see those varicose veins, it’s a sign of more serious health problems brewing beneath the surface of your skin.  They tell vein specialists like us that the valves in your veins aren’t working properly. As a result, blood is pooling in your veins, and not flowing back up to your heart as it should. Patient-7-After

At first, that pooling may just cause your veins to bulge and become more visible. But, if left untreated, your problems won’t stop there. Soon, you may notice swelling in your legs, also called edema. You’ll be at a higher risk for blood clots, especially DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis, a clot that forms in your deep leg veins. This situation is an emergency—if the clot breaks free, it can travel to your lungs and may be fatal.)

And that’s not all you’ll face. As your veins bulge, that pressure could damage your skin, leaving you vulnerable to infections and ulcers (these are open wounds which resist healing.) Additionally, you’ll be more likely to experience bleeding episodes, some of which may be serious and require immediate medical attention.

Now you know why, even now, you can’t ignore those varicose veins. But we’re not just here to scare you. So, please follow our advice for treating varicose veins during the COVID-19 epidemic.

This is How We’re Currently Addressing Varicose Veins

For starters, now is not the moment to self-diagnose your vein problems. So, if you’re concerned about varicose veins, request a consultation with our specialists. Either in person or through or remote medical care, hosted on the secure Doxy platform. After our consultation, we will recommend a course of treatment.

It’s quite possible that we’ll manage your vein health at home for now. We can recommend compression garments to improve your blood flow, and reduce pooling and swelling. We can help you move more, even at home, which can also help varicose veins. And we can realistically determine whether an in-office procedure will be necessary.

But we can’t help you if we don’t see you. So please, don’t ignore current health issues. If you notice varicose veins, reach out right away. The sooner we start treatment, the more likely it is that we can successfully manage your condition from the safety of your home.

Sources: Health.Harvard.Edu

For the Love of Your Veins, Please Don’t Go Barefoot

Hello to all our at-home readers out there. Are you using this time to switch to a more ‘casual’ (read sweats-only) wardrobe? Great, we’re totally here for it. But are you padding around your house barefoot all day? That, we actually can’t endorse. Because here’s the thing: going barefoot all day is really bad for your feet, as I’m sure you’ll hear podiatrists tell you. And, as it turns out, it’s not that great for your vein health either. Let’s take a closer look, so we can convince you to wear some shoes. At least a few hours every day…heck, maybe you’ll even go out and take a walk in them!

What’s Wrong with Going Barefoot at Home?

In typical times, we’re usually home for no more than a few hours every day. So, if you stick to bare feet in the house, it’s not a big deal. But these days? For the most part, you’re stuck in the house for so many, many hours. Which means, if you remain barefoot, you’re putting tons of pressure on your legs and feet. Especially if your home has stone or wood flooring.

As the days and weeks of quarantine add up, that pressure will likely give you plenty of foot pain. And it may also affect circulation to your lower legs and feet, resulting in more swelling (edema) or the emergence or worsening of varicose veins. Now, we can certainly help you with those issues if you’re already experiencing discomfort–we still provide in office care as well as Telemedicine appointments–but we’d rather stop the problem before it starts. In order to do that, this is what you’ve got to do.

The Fine Art of In-Home Shoe Wearing

We know that many readers prefer a shoe-free home. This is, after all, a great way to keep germs out of your house. Yet, as we just mentioned, going barefoot all day is a major problem for your feet and your veins. What then, do we propose? It’s actually very simple: pick a pair of supportive shoes that you only wear at home. If they never step outside, they’ll never pick up germs, so your house stays clean, and your feet and legs secure much-needed support.

And guess what? You don’t even have to wear outdoor shoes in your home. Many pairs of slippers are designed with sufficient arch support to stave off pressure, pain and swelling. And, in combination with any recommended compression socks, these will do a great job protecting your vein health. Now, we can’t promise they’ll break up that at-home boredom. but heck, that’s what reading blogs like ours is for, right? Stay safe out there, everyone! And be sure to reach out, without delay, if you’re in need of vein health support!

 

Sources: Footwear News

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Texas Endovascular is OPEN for business!

Our offices have stringent safety protocols in place to keep you safe and provide the care you need.  We are accepting appointments now. Do not delay necessary medical care and follow-up. Call our office today at 713-575-3686  to schedule your appointment with Dr. Fox, Dr. Hardee, or Dr. Valenson.

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