Category: COVID-19

Best Exercise for Peripheral Artery Disease

Exercise and PAD are an important combination if you want to avoid pain when you move. You see, if you have Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) you may experience painful leg cramps. That’s because, with PAD, your atherosclerosis (hardened or narrowed arteries) limits blood flow to your legs. And this lack of blood flow leads to leg pain, especially when you walk or exercise.

Surprisingly, even though it hurts to move, increasing your movement can help manage and reduce your PAD pain. That’s why physical activity is so important for anyone living with this condition.

Exercise and PAD

Even though our country is starting to emerge from the coronavirus outbreak, you might have gotten out of your gym routine and started home workouts. That makes a lot of sense, especially if you have compromised health because of underlying conditions like PAD. But, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your exercise routine. It just needs to change a little.

In fact, there’s great reasons to keep exercising, even in these scary times. Research suggests that getting mild to moderate exercise, every day, can boost your immune system and help control your PAD symptoms. Just remember, for both this outbreak and your PAD, “moderate” is the key. Anything too intense could leave you hurting, and reduce your immune response.

Smart Exercises for PAD

Since walking is one of the best workout options for people with PAD, why not simply take your workouts outside? Pick a quiet outdoor spot and stroll away. Bonus: exercising outdoors gets you in nature, which can help calm anxiety—something many of us are grappling with right now.

Go for as long as you can, even working up to a slow jog if you’ve discussed this with your vein specialist. Just keep your distance from any other outdoor workout warriors—six feet is the recommended length. This way, we can work together to prevent the spread of disease, without sacrificing your personal fitness.

Treating PAD to Make Exercise Easier

When you have PAD, walking can trigger pain. (We call this claudication.) But exercise improves PAD symptoms over time. in fact, new research in JAHA shows that walking fast enough to cause this pain is actually important. Because, after six and 12 months, study participants who kept up a walking pace that caused leg pain or discomfort walked noticeably longer distances per minute than study participants who walked at a comfortable pace. (Or who skipped walking workouts altogether.)

Over time, treating your PAD in other ways 2can actually make it less painful to exercise. In fact, new studies show that treating PAD with angioplasty gets more oxygen to your legs.  After treatment, researchers found that patients experienced less leg fatigue and breathlessness. (Even when they exercised at the peak of their efforts!)

What does that mean for you? If you’re living with PAD, keeping active can help you stay healthy. But you may need more help–and PAD treatment–in order to exercise without pain. Ready to get more active? Reach out to our Houston area arterial specialists for an appointment today. We are happy to offer a PAD assessment, and help you find the relief that you’re seeking!

Sources: Physiology Report

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.

What About Lymphedema? why do my feet swell

Related to edema is lymphedema, a form of chronic edema that develops when your body’s lymphatic system isn’t functioning properly. It’s different than the edema tied to vein-disease. But it’s important to understand that vein disease is progress, and so you may end up with both vein disease and a lymphatic disorder. As with swelling in the lower legs, lymphedema requires the attention of a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Otherwise, lymphedema can lead to serious complications, including leg amputation, as was recently the case for Bachelorette Season 15 contestant Cam Ayala.

Now, primary edema is the main 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

Signs of PAD Men and Women Need to Know

We want to tell you about the signs of PAD men and women need to know. Because we want to raise awareness for heart disease. And PAD is just that.

Remember: 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 diagnoses, they also appear to develop more simultaneous chronic conditions (comorbidities). Also, according to new research, body fat and menopause can increase women’s PAD risk. Specifically, upper body fat seems to increase your post-menopause PAD risk. But lower body fat appears to have the opposite effect.

Additionally, post-menopausal women tend to develop calcium buildup in their breasts. The same is true of women with type II diabetes, high blood pressure and/or inflammation. That makes sense in many ways. Because, according to this study, that build-up increases women’s cardiovascular disease risk by 51%. This risk was for any kind of heart disease. But, their specific risk for peripheral arterial disease rose by 23%. As a result, we now view breast calcification as a marker for arterial disease. And women with one condition should be monitored for the other.

Even worse? Another new study reveals that osteoporosis increases your PAD risk by as much as 28%. And, because women start off life with lower bone density, and lose bone mass faster, they develop osteoporosis more often.

Even so, and regardless of body fat distribution, 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. Now, in the early stages, you can try to boost circulation to your feet. Moving more is a great way to boost blood flow to your feet. That’s why we share weekly exercise tips to help your circulation and vein health.

You can also change your diet to improve vein health and circulation. Be sure to avoid circulation busting culprits like alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. (Or any other items your specialist says to steer clear of.) You could also score some pairs of compression socks, possibly even prescription ones. These now-stylish wardrobe staples really improve blood flow to your feet.

Specialized Care for PAD in Men and Women

Sometimes, though, these at-home efforts won’t be enough. And that’s when our vein specialists will discuss other treatment options. But don’t be scared.

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.”

The Dos and Don’ts of Varicose Vein Exercises

Let’s talk about varicose vein exercises. 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.

Running can also be a problem. Now, it may be ok to take a light jog on a grassy surface or on a trail. But pounding your legs on a treadmill or concrete surface puts lots of pressure on your feet and legs. Which is a big problem for varicose veins.

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

Are there Varicose Vein Complications? 7 Warning Signs to Watch For

Chronic vein conditions can lead to varicose vein complications. That’s why it’s important to treat those varicose veins quickly. Why is that the case? When you have this condition, you may develop varicose veins complications, many of which are serious. And you truly need to worry about these issues if you delay or forego vein treatment.

Are Varicose Veins Complications 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. Often, painful cramps go along with varicose veins. That can make it difficult to get around and do your regular activities.

But, if left untreated, your problems won’t stop there. Soon, you may notice other symptoms. Including these 7 complications of untreated varicose veins.

8 Symptoms of Untreated Vein Disease

  1. Left untreated, varicose veins can lead to swelling in your legs, also called edema.
  2. The swelling may be painful, so your legs can hurt, and need rest and elevation to feel better.
  3. You may experience fatigue since this study proves varicose vein complications can lead to restless leg syndrome. And that can disrupt your sleep, leaving you tired the next day. Alternatively, heavy legs can wear you out more throughout the day. Then, as this study shows, your legs may cramp more at night, making it harder to sleep. And the study shows this symptom is worse for women than for men.
  4. Next, 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.)
  5. 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 that resist healing.)
  6. Your skin can also change in appearance, turning dark and discolored. Over time, the skin may even thicken, and taken on a rough texture.
  7. Additionally, you’ll be more likely to experience bleeding episodes, some of which may be serious and require immediate medical attention.
  8. You’ll increase your risk for restless legs. This refers to a condition where you feel the constant urge to move your legs; it’s uncomfortable and can leave your sleep disturbed. About 30% of people with varicose veins experience restless leg symptoms, especially after bedtime.

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.

Treating Varicose Veins in Houston

After diagnosis, we can manage your vein health at home with some lifestyle changes. We can recommend compression garments to improve your blood flow, and reduce pooling and swelling. Plus, we can help you move more, which can also help varicose veins. And we can realistically determine whether you’ll need to schedule an in-office procedure to get rid of your varicose veins.

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: Harvard Health

Here’s One Binge Watching and Video Game Danger You Need to Know

There’s one video game danger your Houston vein specialists need to tell you about. We know everyone’s spent more time at home over the last two years. And we know you’ve been bored: it’s not surprising. But, if you’ve started passing those hours playing endless amounts of video games, heed this warning: you’re putting your body at risk. To help you understand, the gaming experts at OnlineCasino.ca studied the long-term effects of video game playing on our bodies. And they came up with a scary model of what constant gamers will look like 20 years from now. Let’s check it out and get scared straight…away from the gaming system!

Video Game Danger: How Constant Gaming Hurts Your (Vein) Health

According to the Canadian study, constant video gaming now could lead to varicose veins and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome down the road. And in order to illustrate the point, the study authors created Michael, who’s “A visual representation of the future gamer.

“From sleep deprivation and dehydration, to lack of vitamin D, digital eye strain and ‘PlayStation thumb’ (also known as Onycholysis, this is a condition caused by constant tapping, which causes your nail to fall from its nail bed, and can also create blisters on your fingers) — these are just some of the physical implications of spending hours online, in a gaming chair, away from sunlight and physical activity.”

Think that’s scary? That’s not all ‘Michael’ faces. He’s also got an indented skull, because of chronic pressure from gaming headsets. His eyes are bloodshot and rimmed with dark circles, thanks to too much screen time. His back is hunched and his shoulders are rounded, since he doesn’t move much and has bad posture. He’s obese, because he doesn’t get exercise. And he’s got swollen ankles and varicose veins.

Binge Watching Hurts Veins, Too

Even if you don’t play hours of Roblox or Fortnite, your veins could be at risk. (Especially if your Netflix cue is growing daily.) What’s the problem?

According to a new study in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, watching TV for too long ups your risk for VTE blood clots by 35%. (And that risk applies to clots in your legs and lungs, also called a DVT and pulmonary embolism, respectively.)

The problem? When you watch a full season of episodes in one sitting, you stay sedentary. And that means your blood stays put, and may pool in your leg, making swelling and clots more likely.

(P.S. The risk isn’t only associated with binge-watching. It applies to any activity that makes you sit for a long time. So work-a-holics beware, too!)

Protect Your Veins from Gaming and Boredom

Of course, that last problem is most concerning to your Houston area vein specialists.  Varicose veins are a symptom of failing valves, which are often an early sign of developing vein disease. And want to know one of the risk factors for varicose veins? Staying in the same position for long periods of time, since this negatively impacts your valve function.

Thankfully, we don’t have to become Michael! Even if you can’t cure your love for the games, you can get plenty of movement while you’re waiting for new lives to come in. Whenever you can, stay away from the screens and step outside for a walk in the fresh air. Take a few extra flights of stairs in your home between video game rounds. Or get back to your favorite pre-pandemic workouts.

Whatever your choice, do us a favor. Step away from the screens sometimes. At least every hour or so. And if you notice signs of varicose veins, don’t wait to contact us. Instead, schedule an immediate appointment at one of our five Houston area offices. Together, we’ll help you see that you don’t have to sit around your home, slowly turning into Michael. Just seek vein treatment right away, and we’ll keep you safe and on the path to a less frightening future!

 

The Danger of Leaky Veins and Vein Disease!

Did you know that untreated vein disease could lead to leaky veins? And, when you have leaky valves or veins, you may develop edema or vascular congestion, a condition that could cause your feet to turn blue due to constriction in the small blood vessels that feed your extremities?

Well, it’s true, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why we want you to stick with preventative health care. Being proactive about your vein health can help you avoid a medical emergency. This is something New York City mom Tammy Fried learned the hard way. While she was 28 weeks pregnant!

A Scary COVID Vein Story

Back in May 2020, Tammy told the Today show that she woke up feeling something wasn’t right. Soon, she had a nose bleed, and started coughing blood! She called for a virtual emergency room visit, and luckily, got sent to the real hospital immediately!

Once there, doctors discovered that one of her abnormal blood vessels burst. Now, that leaky vein was spilling blood into her lungs. Fortunately, there was an interventional radiologist on call at the hospital. So, he could plug the hole with minimally invasive treatments. And she could avoid surgery, helping her recover. And, two weeks later, deliver her baby boy, now nicknamed Miracle Max!

Of course, we want our patients to avoid emergency situations like Tammy’s. So, if your legs are tired, heavy or cramping, your may need a diagnostic ultrasound from your vein specialist. If that is the case, you may be wondering: how will an ultrasound uncover what’s going on inside my legs? Isn’t that kind of technology more common in Obstetrics offices?

Well, you’re partially correct: interventional radiologists use a different kind of ultrasound to diagnose conditions like Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) The technology we use is known as a Doppler ultrasound. And in this post, we’ll teach you how it helps us detect many different kinds of vein disease.

What conditions can a Doppler ultrasound detect?

Doppler ultrasounds check your blood flow. They help us discover whether you have problems like narrowing or leaky veins or blockages in your blood vessels.

This type of ultrasound uses sound waves to check how well blood flows through your legs. Those waves bounce off your moving blood cells, giving your doctors a better picture of the speed and health of your blood flow. Doppler ultrasounds involve hand-held devices; screenings are pain free and non-invasive.

Using a Doppler ultrasound, vein specialists can detect disruptions in your blood flow, hardening of your arteries and even potentially life threatening conditions like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that develops in the deep veins of your legs that rest well below the skin’s surface.

When should I get a Doppler ultrasound?

We may recommend an ultrasound if there are signs that your blood flow has been reduced. These symptoms can include changes in the appearance of the skin on your legs, leg pain that appears with movement, hair loss on your legs or even wounds that won’t heal.

If you’ve had a blood clot, or we suspect you have one, a Doppler ultrasound can quickly confirm this diagnosis.

We may also recommend a Doppler ultrasound if you’ve recently had a stroke or heart attack. That way, we can determine whether compromised blood flow or clots may be putting you at risk for a repeat problem.

What’s involved in a diagnostic ultrasound for leaky veins?

You’ll typically lie down for your ultrasound. Your ultrasound technician may measure pressure in certain areas of your body by apply blood pressure cuffs at points like your ankles, calves or thighs.

Next, your technician will apply lubricant to the  ultarasound guide (called a transducer). Then he or she will move the device over your skin until we receive a good image of your blood flow.  A Doppler ultrasound typically takes up to 45 minutes. Once it’s done, you are usually free to get up and go back to your daily activities.

When you have an ultrasound in our Houston area vein clinics, your results will be reviewed and delivered to you by one of our highly trained team members. If a problem is detected, we will then take the time to discuss and explain your diagnosis, and walk you through all your possible treatment options.

Sounds like an easy way to prevent medical emergencies, right? That’s because it is! So don’t wait another day, worrying that your damaged veins may leak. Instead, schedule an appointment with our team today. We’ll give you a better picture of your health, and protect you from problems that could already be developing!

 

Why Going Barefoot Hurts Your Veins

Hello to all our at-home readers out there: we’re here to talk about going barefoot. Did you use the COVID shut downs 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. 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. Which is very important, if you want to avoid long term damage to your veins or arteries. Not to mention conditions such as Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.)

Going Barefoot and PAD

If you develop swelling or leg pain after going barefoot, that could spell problems for your arteries, too. How could that be? Well, PAD is a condition that develops when your arteries narrow (atherosclerosis.) But many patients miss or delay a PAD diagnosis. Because it’s symptoms (including leg pain, and changes in skin color on your legs) look like other problems.

Other things add to the trouble when it comes to diagnosing PAD. Recently, presenters at the American College of Cardiology‘s annual conference noticed that there’s a research gap when it comes to PAD patients. Already, doctors are trying to close that gap with new studies like the Voyager PAD trial.

But as researcher Mar Bonaca, MD, said, “I think that has to change…The PAD patient is complicated…They are at very high risk of limb events. And the risk there is not the same over time.” He also noted, “We need to understand what therapies do, their risks and benefits in a fragile population, and we need to look at outcomes that are relevant for this population.”

We could not agree more! In our Houston area vein clinics, we already make a major difference for PAD patients, by offering treatments such as angioplasty, stenting or atherectomy. But we also want to do our part and educate people about their PAD disease risk. Which is why, for now, we ask you to stop going barefoot. To pay attention to any unusual new symptoms in your legs. And to make an appointment with our specialists at the first sign of any changes in the look or appearance of your legs!

Sources: Footwear News

Here’s How to Protect Your Veins While Working From Home

If you’re new to the work-from-home game, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, you need to protect know this: your vein health is at risk. Unlike office settings, when we’re home, most of us aren’t set up to work in positions that protect our veins from the challenges of poor posture and all-day sitting.

In little bursts, that’s not a big deal. But as the weeks stretch out, and we spend more time working at home, these little problems can become major ones. In fact, slumping and sitting all day can cause blood to pool in your legs. This stretches out your vessels, impacts circulation and leads to varicose veins and other symptoms of vein disease. Those additional risks include DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in the deep veins of your legs), plus other, also risky clots.

Want to avoid these complications? We can help! Just follow our top tips for safely working at home.

Preventing Blood Clots working from home raises blood clot risk

When working properly, your blood clots to protect you from excessive bleeding after a cut or injury. But, sometimes, your blood clots when it’s not supposed to, and that can pose a serious threat to your health. As we mentioned, sitting or even standing for too long can make your blood pool. And that can raise your risk for clotting.

Now, when they form on your surface veins, blood clots aren’t typically dangerous. Actually, when you have varicose veins, you probably already have blood clots. But you’ll also have a higher risk of developing clots in your deep veins, buried well below the surface of your legs.

These clots can cause pain and swelling, and may even break off and travel to your lungs, creating a pulmonary embolism. (A life threatening condition.) Also, blood clots may form in your brain, and that can be immediately life threating. So, if you weakness in your limbs, drooping facial features, or slurring words, seek immediate medical attention.

Of course, it’s crucial to stay aware of the warning signs of blood clots. But it’s also critical to prevent problems. So follow our important tips for protecting your veins while working from home.

5 Stay Healthy Hacks for Working from Home

Standing Desk

These tips will help prevent aches, pains and additional tolls on your vein health:

1. Optimize your computer screen height

Now that you’re working at home, it’s tempting to work in bed, or on your couch. But that can lead to poor posture and pressure on your veins! To protect yourself, set up your screen so that you can view it straight on, without having to look down, or twist your head left or right. Put your screen in front of you at a comfortable viewing height. Even if you’ve got to get a phone book to raise the height, it’s worth it. Why? Viewing your screen straight on will protect your posture and help you avoid back and neck pain.

2. Touch your chair backing

Your chair’s got a backing for a reason—to give you support. When you sit up too straight, or hunch forward over your desk, you’re putting pressure on your spine, either forcing it to work too hard or causing it to curve in unnatural shapes.

When you rest against your chair back, however, you support your spine’s natural curve. Plus, this position allows your chair to take on some of your body weight, which means there’s less pressure on your feet. And, with less pressure on your feet, your blood flows freely and you experience fewer vein health complications!

Finding it tough to sit back that far with comfort? No sweat! Simply extend the back of your chair by adding a cushion or towel to the chair. This will feel good on your back while ensuring you receive the benefits of proper seated posture.

3. Support your feet

When you’re sitting in that chair, your feet should be flat on the floor. And if they don’t reach? Well, you’ve got to help make sure they do, by placing books, blocks or even cushions beneath your feet.

Why is this step so crucial? Leaving your feet dangling is a major roadblock for your circulation. It puts excessive pressure on your thighs, interferes with your lower body blood flow, and raises your risk for blood clots—especially a potentially life-threatening DVT.

4. Minimize standing

Maybe you switched to a standing desk at your office. (If you did, check out our standing desk warnings here.) And maybe you want to try to do the same at home. But here’s the deal: while sitting all day is terrible for your health, standing all day isn’t much better.

Staying on your feet for hours at a time puts tons of pressure on your feet, raising your risk for varicose veins. It puts tons of pressure on your circulatory system, which could even impact the health of your arteries and heart.

So, while we applaud the desire to avoid all-day sitting and work more movement into your day, standing up isn’t the answer. Instead, follow our previous safe-sitting suggestions. And look to our final tip for ways to prevent all-day sitting disease.

5. Take Moving Breaks

Sitting or standing all day is a bad idea. When you’re at the office, it’s easy to move by building bathroom breaks and water cooler trips into your day. You can also opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or even walk over to a colleague’s desk instead of sending an email.

But at home? It’s a lot tougher to keep moving. So, to avoid the pitfalls of sedentary living, you’ll have to work a little bit harder. Set reminders for yourself to get up and walk around every 30 minutes. Circle your living room, climb the stairs…it doesn’t really matter, as long as you take some steps and get your blood pumping out of those legs and back to the heart. This should help protect your vein health during these safe-at-home moments.

If, however, you’re already noticing signs of a brewing vein problem, like dark or bulging veins, leg cramps, or changes in skin color? Don’t wait to seek treatment! Our vein specialists can help you right now, so make an immediate appointment with our office. Because, here’s the deal: vein problems are progressive. Delay treatment today, and you’ll face a bigger problem next month, next week or even tomorrow!

Sources: Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, AARP

DVT and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Here’s what you need to know about DVT and pregnancy. A Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of your body. These deep veins are exactly what they sound like: situated deep inside your body, far away from your skin’s surface. Because the veins aren’t 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, even with vaccines now available, pregnancy probably feels frightening. You may be worried about delivering during the times of Coronavirus, and we aren’t here to scare you.

Still, today, we’re going to look at the connection between pregnancy and your risk for DVT. In that way, you can  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. But, whether virtually or in our office, we urge you not to wait to address blood clot concerns. If you think you have a DVT, call our office and request an immediate appointment. We’ll see you right away, and decide if you need to head directly to the emergency room!

 

Sources: Journal Radiology,

Request an AppointmentRequest Appointment