Category: Health Lifestyle

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!

 

Here’s the Lowdown on Stress and Varicose Veins

Stress is a part of our daily lives. And, as you probably know already, stress can take a toll on many different aspects of our health. But have you ever wondered whether stress can affect your vein health? As it turns out, the answer isn’t so black and white. Let’s take a closer look.

The Effect of Stress on Your Body

One of the first physical symptoms of stress is a rise in your blood pressure. If stress becomes chronic, and your blood pressure remains elevated, the unusual pressure can weaken your blood vessels. When blood vessels are weak, your circulation gets worse, allowing blood to pool in your veins. And when blood pools in your veins, they become dark and bulge out—and, voila, you start to notice varicose veins!

That’s one way in which stress can impact your vein health. But, wait…there’s more. Have you ever heard of the expression stress eating? It was coined because people tend to make poor dietary choices when they are under stress. Over time, those poor choices can lead to weight gain. Plus, stress hormones—namely, cortisol—increase your blood sugar levels, which can impact your hunger levels, making weight gain and obesity even more likely. And obesity increases your risk of developing varicose veins because added weight puts added pressure on your veins. Additionally, if you are extremely obese, it may be harder to see your legs. So, if varicose veins develop and go unnoticed, they may worsen and progress to the point where serious complications like leg ulcers develop.

Fighting Stress and Varicose Veins with Movement leg exercise

Stress leads to weight gain, as we’ve just shown, and exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. Even 30 minutes a day of walking can help keep the pounds off, protecting your vein health in the process. But that’s not all—exercise can improve circulation, fighting off additional side effects of stress. And, exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which work as nice counterbalances to stress-related cortisol.

In short, stress takes a toll on your well-being, from your mental health down to your veins. And one great solution to all these problems? Exercise! Need inspiration for stepping up your workout routines? Follow our #MoveitMonday series here on the blog, and check out our movement board on Pinterest!

5 Easy Exercises to Boost Circulation Now

Looking for easy exercises to boost circulation? Well, you’ve come to the right place. And just in the nick of time!

After all, when you have vein disease, you may experience a wide range of symptoms, from tired heavy legs to changes in the appearance of your skin. One potential skin change you may experience could be very threatening to your health. And that’s developing a venous skin ulcer. (This is a sore on your leg that’s hard to heal, usually because your circulation isn’t working well.) While ulcers can be difficult to treat, but a new study is now suggesting that exercise, in combination with compression therapy, can help ulcers heal faster! Let’s take a closer look.

Exercises to Boost Circulation and Compression Therapy: A Powerful Combination

Compression socks will help your ulcer heal, but adding in exercise can speed up the process

According to research published in JAMA Dermatology, ulcer patients who tried compression therapy and exercise healed quicker than those who only used compression therapy. Compression therapy, usually in the form of socks or stockings, helps heal leg ulcers by directing more blood flow to your legs. In this new study, researchers reviewed clinical information for 190 patients, and found that healing rates improved by 14% when patients were prescribed compression therapy and exercise, as compared to compression therapy alone. For the purposes of this review, the exercise included walking and ankle exercises, both of which improve blood flow and strengthen calf muscles. Strong calf muscles can help manage the symptoms of vein disease because, when they contract properly, those muscles can help give blood the push it needs to make its way back to your heart.

As Houston vein specialists, we are dedicated to improving vein health and helping people heal from vein disease. With that goal in mind, we dedicate frequent Monday blog posts to exercises that may help improve your vein health. Given the  findings in this study, today’s post will highlight ankle exercises you can do from anywhere, and without any equipment. As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise plan!

Five Ankle Strengthening Exercises to Boost Circulation Exercises to boost circulation

  • Standing on one foot: Begin by just standing on one leg at a time, and holding the position for as long as you can. Once that becomes fairly easy to pull off, try doing the same thing, but with your eyes closed.
  • Standing calf raises: Lift yourself up on your toes for 15 reps, taking a brief pause between sets. If you are ready for more of a challenge, do the exercise on one leg at a time, or hold a light set of weights while you do the raises
  • Heel walks: Lift your toes and forefoot off the ground. Walk back and forth across the room, balancing on your heels.
  • Hop Around: Stand on your right leg. Hop forward, sideways and backward up to 30 repetitions, if you are ready for that kind of challenge. Then switch legs and repeat the moves on your left foot.
  • Skater jumps: Start in a standing position on your left leg. Propel yourself to the right using the muscles in your left glute, and land on your right leg with a bent knee. Jump back to the left side, using the muscles in your right glute to move you over.

What’s the Right Way to Put On Compression Stockings?

Last week, we shared a blog post about the great reasons to start wearing compression socks. To recap: they could help protect you from deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. Plus, they can slow the progression of vein disease. And today, more than ever, they come in lots of cute styles! So now that you have the “why” when it comes to compression stockings, we’d like to address the “how.” After all, it can sometimes be tricky to work these tightly-fitted compression socks onto your legs. But first, let’s examine 5 early warning signs of deep vein thrombosis.

DVT Warning Signals to Watch For

Wearing compression socks can help prevent DVT. Here are the signs to look for, that can tell you you’re in danger for deep vein thrombosis.

  1. Cramps or throbbing pain in one leg, probably in the thigh or calf.
  2. One leg displays swelling.
  3. The skin around the sore spot on your leg may be warm to the touch.
  4. That skin may also turn red or darken.
  5. Swollen veins that are noticeably hard to the touch.

Got any of these symptoms? We may recommend compression therapy. And, if that’s the case, you’ll need to know the right way to put on compression socks. So we hope this guide can help ease this somewhat complex process.

How to Put on Compression Socks: A Step by Step Guide

First of all, it’s important to remember that compression stockings aren’t like typical pantyhose. So forget the usual

Creating a pocket for your toes is the first step to properly applying compression stockings.

ways you pull on stockings. Before putting on compression stockings, you should take off any jewelry and dry your legs completely. Now you’re ready to begin application.

Step 1: Whatever you do, don’t bunch up the feet of your stockings. This would only concentrate all that pressure in one small area, making it harder to pull your stockings into place. Instead, reach your hand down and through your stocking, and grab hold of the heel. Keep hold of the heel and turn your stocking inside out. This will create a little pocket for your foot!

Step 2: Put your toes in the foot pocket you just created. Pull the stocking up to your heel, then grasp the top layer of fabric, right near the middle of your foot.

Step 3: Keeping hold of the fabric, lift the stocking over your heel and pull upwards until your heel is completely covered.

Step 4: Now, use both hands to grasp the remaining loose fabric. Pull it gently up over your calf. Going slowly, continue sliding the stocking upwards, until it rests over your knee.  Smooth any wrinkles, making sure the stockings are laying properly in place.

Step 5: Repeat on other side, then get dressed and go. You’re ready to start your day with a valuable tool to support your vein health!

Did you know that medical compression socks actually require a prescription to make sure you get the right amount of pressure? Our Houston area vein specialists are here to help you find the right pair to protect your circulation and prevent dangerous clots. So schedule an appointment at one of our Houston area clinics today!

Sources: Sockwell USA, The Mayo Clinic

Are Standing Desks Good or Bad for Your Veins?

Have you thought about getting a standing desk for your home office? Did all your co-workers have them before? These days, so many nine-to-fivers are opting to switch out traditional work stations for Standing Deskstanding desks. (BTW, these are desks that can be raised or lowered. They give you the option of standing or sitting throughout the day.)

These standing desks became popular for a reason. So many people in this country struggle with their weight. And that’s partly because of their lack of activity.

That’s why many people thought standing desks were great. They could solve the problem of all-day sitting. But, unfortunately, standing desks bring individuals a whole new set of problems. Because, as it turns out, standing desks are linked  to increases in foot and back pain. They can also increase your risk of developing varicose veins. To better understand the risks of a standing desk, let’s explore the pros and cons of each desk option.

Why Sitting All Day is Dangerous

Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? That’s right, some health experts have said that it’s worse for your health to sit all day than to smoke a pack of cigarettes. Extended periods of sitting have been linked to an increased risk of both heart and kidney disease. Not surprisingly, sitting has also been shown to increase the odds of gaining weight. And, as we already know, being overweight contributes to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Some researchers even suggest that increasing your exercise level won’t completely combat the effects of entire days spent sitting. That’s why people started falling for standing desks.

Dangers of Standing All Day

Here’s some unwanted news. Even if you get your boss to approve a standing desk, or spring for one on your own, your health woes may not be over.  Standing desks have been known to cause back and foot pain. And that’s not all. Extended periods of standing can leave you feeling tired and less able to concentrate.

Plus, getting to the point of this blog, standing desks increase your risk of DVTs (deep vein thrombosis) and those lovely, bulging varicose veins we all love to hate. Why is that the case? Standing all day overworks your back, leg and feet muscles as you struggle to maintain one position. And, to find out why all day standing can cause spider veins, just keep reading!

Standing Leads to Spider Veins

The veins in your lower legs have to fight gravity to get your blood to flow up your body to your heart. As you age, or when you put too much pressure on those veins, they can weaken or sustain damage. That already makes it harder for blood to get moving.

As a result, blood pools in your veins and the vessels swell. This is when you usually notice spider veins.  Your varicose vein risk increases when it becomes harder for your blood to flow to your heart. Weight gain, tight clothes and—you guessed it—long periods on your feet—make it harder for blood to flow. That’s why standing desks, and jobs like construction work or nursing that keep you on your feet, make you more likely to develop spider veins.

Should you Choose a Standing Desk?

Since neither option is perfect, a standing desk is still a great choice. Because it moves up and down, you can alternate between periods of sitting and time spent standing. But how often should you switch positions?

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on this front. Experts recommend changing positions anywhere between every 20, 30 or 60 minutes. And some get more specific about standing desks. They say you should not stand up to work for more than 10 minutes out of every hour. You can also invest in an anti-fatigue mat to use when you’re standing up at your desk. This can help take some pressure off your lower legs and feet.

If you follow these guidelines, you can minimize your risk of standing or sitting too much. It’s also a great idea to step away from your desk for quick walking breaks throughout the day. Even small bursts of movement can help keep your blood flowing as it should.

When you’re not at work, make sure to exercise regularly. Workouts like walking or yoga can boost your blood flow, encouraging circulation out of your legs. At home and on the job, choose your clothes carefully. Avoid outfits that are tight at the waist or legs, like Spanx.

If you’re carrying extra weight, losing a few pounds can help boost your circulation. If you’re a smoker, now’s the time to quit. Finally, if your standing desk is triggering your spider veins, consider wearing compressions socks. And at the end of the day, be sure to elevate your feet for at least 15 minutes, to help get blood flowing out of your legs.

Making the switch to a standing desk can be life changing—as long as you know the risks and take the appropriate precautions. Still with proper care, you can almost certainly enjoy this innovative office feature without the fear of destroying your vein health. And if you have concerns about sitting, standing and your vein health, come in for a diagnostic vein scan. We’ll let you know if that standing desk is a good idea or not!

Sources: The Mountaineer

8 Ways to Safely Fly With Varicose Veins

Are you worried about flying with varicose veins? That’s perfectly natural, but we’re here to help. After all, 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. (Long road trips could also spell trouble.)

And both of these travel modes are especially risky 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. So, if you choose to fly, or even if you’re stuck sitting for a long drive, follow these eight 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. These garments offer outside pressure that helps your veins fight gravity and get pooling blood moving. Plus, they can help get your calf muscles pumping harder, making it easier for blood to get out of your legs and feet and up to your heart.

Remember compression levels, come in a range of pressure levels. (They’re measured in mmHg, similar to your blood pressure.) Before you travel, 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.

4. When in doubt, flex your feet

You don’t have to get up to protect your veins during travel. Instead, you can flex your feet while seated–that will help keep up your circulation. To get the benefits, just pull your toes back towards your body. Hold for 10 seconds, then point your toes for another 10 seconds. Switch feet back and forth a few times, and you’ll get some of the benefits of the mid-flight exercises we just reviewed. Without disturbing your seat mate or getting any strange looks.

4. Look for Leg Room

While it costs more, upgrading your seat to enjoy more legroom could really make a difference to your vein health. Because, even if you’re not in first class, more room makes it easier to move your legs. And moving your legs more will lower your risk for clots or other vein issues while you travel.

5. Skip the Sleeping Pills.

So many of us swallow a sleeping aid after takeoff so we can snooze away the hours in flight. But that’s a big problem for your veins. Because if you deeply sleep through your flight, you won’t get up and move. Instead, aim for cat naps. Interrupted by plenty of activity breaks. (Go back to point three for tips on what to do during those breaks.)

6. Pick Safe Travel Outfits baggy clothing flying with varicose veins

It may be tempting to wear your cutest outfit if you’re seeing family or friends at the airport after months of distancing. But steer clear of tight jeans or even fitted yoga pants, as both can restrict your blood flow. Instead, opt for loose-fitting clothes that won’t put any extra pressure on your legs or feet. That way, your blood can flow without restrictions. And you can always pull off an outfit change just before landing if you prefer a different look.

7. Treat Varicose Veins Before Flying

What’s the safest way of flying with varicose veins? That’s actually a trick question. Because your safest bet is to seek varicose vein treatment before boarding an airplane. What does that mean for you? Well, if you’ve got a plane reservation coming up (or if you’re just dreaming of travel), don’t wait. Make an appointment today with our Houston vein specialists. We’ll discuss your vein health options, suggesting treatments that could make it safer to fly, or even sharing guidance to get you through your trip until you have time to treat those spider veins!

Sources: National Blood Clot Alliance

 

This is How Much Sleep You Need, for Your Arteries

Ever wondered how much sleep you need? After all, when it comes to getting sleep, the amount you get never feels like enough. So maybe you’ve been using more work-from-home opportunities in order to catch up on sleep. That’s certainly a good idea. But take note: when it comes to getting sleep, you can get too much. At least, that is, in terms of your vein health.

How Much Sleep You Need for Vein Health

According to a study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, your arteries need a very specific amount of sleep. And that magic number falls in the range of six to eight hours, every night.

Specifically, the study revealed that getting less or more sleep resulted in “stiffer” arteries, meaning they were less likely to contract. And, unlike your muscles, stiff arteries can’t be loosened up so easily.

This is a major concern, since less flexible veins and arteries struggle to keep your blood pumping. When that happens, you’re more likely to see plaque build up in your arteries. And, in turn, you’ll see a jump in risk for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), heart attacks and strokes.

Now, under-sleeping is a bigger problem than over-sleeping—both for your arteries and the rest of your body. When you sleep less than six hours a night, your arterial risk increases by 54%. On the other hand, sleeping more than eight hours increases your risk by 39%.

In fact, one Chinese study directly linked longer sleep durations with decreased physical activity. (And increased PAD risk!) Now, that;s just one study. And the perceived risk increase is relatively minor. So, while that’s less of a problem, it’s still not great. Clearly, prioritizing optimal sleep is crucial to your health.

How to Get More Rest

There are many different methods you can use to get enough hours in each night. In order to stay in the optimal range, create a bed time and waking time for yourself. And stick to those times every single day, even on weekends.

Additionally, make time for daily exercise, but try to sneak those sweat sessions into the earlier part of your day. Late night exercise may interfere with your sleep. It’s also important to avoid large meals towards the end of the day. And start shutting down screens in the last hour before bedtime, as blue light can interfere with your sleep.

On that note, try to keep all devices out of your bedroom. To create a better sleep environment, it’s wise to keep your room as dark as possible. (Black out shades could be very helpful.) You may also want to turn your thermostat down a few degrees before bed, since cooler temperatures can help you enjoy a more restful night of sleep.

Need more help protecting your veins and arteries? Reach out to our Houston vein specialists for an in-office consultation! We can help make sure your arteries are getting everything they need.

Sources: Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Why Does my Calf Hurt When Running?

If you experience calf hurt when running, don’t think it’s just a cramp—it could be a sign of vascular disease. Many athletes notice pain or cramps in their lower legs when they workout or run. Often, the pain improves with rest. Now, these symptoms mimic those of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) And they also could mean you’ve pushed your muscles too hard with your latest workout. But, as it turns out, these cramps could also be a sign of PAES (Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome.)

PAES—The Jogging Disease calf hurt when running

PAES is a condition that develops when your calf muscle gets too large or moves into the wrong position. Then, it presses on your popliteal vein or artery, which is the main artery located behind your knee. The pressure limits blood flow to your lower legs and feet, making your calf hurt when running as well as other symptoms.

Often, you’re born with PAES. But you may not develop symptoms unless you ramp up your workouts. Because it’s the pressure of athletic training that triggers PAES symptoms. Runners often notice PAES pain, but cyclists and soccer players also tend to display symptoms of this condition.

Calf Hurt When Running and Other PAES Symptoms

Cramps and lower leg pain are classic PAES and PAD symptoms. And, with both conditions, the pain improves with rest. In fact, there are other similarities between PAES vs PAD symptoms.

Classic PAES symptoms include:

  • Cold feet after exercise
  • Numbness, burning or tingling calf muscle pain when running or exercising
  • Heavy, numb or swollen legs
  • Calf cramps, especially during exercise
  • Changing skin color
  • Blood clots

Clearly, many of these symptoms are also warning signs of PAD. So, how can your Houston vein specialist determine the cause of your symptoms? A few clinical signs hold the key to diagnosis.

Diagnosing PAES vs PAD

For the most part, your age and medical history can point us towards the right diagnosis. PAD usually affects older adults. Many PAD sufferers have also smoked, and may have other health issues, including heart or kidney disease and/or diabetes.

PAES, on the other hand, affects younger individuals. For the most part, people with this form of vascular disease are young, active and otherwise healthy. So we can usually pinpoint the cause of your symptom fairly easily, when you come into the office. Then, we can perform diagnostic testing, measuring your leg blood pressure, or using diagnostic ultrasound or MRI to take a closer look at your arteries.

Now, seeing us as soon as you notice symptoms is critical. Because, left untreated, PAES can narrow your popliteal artery. This will keep making your calf hurt when running and exercising. But it could also raise your risk for blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). PAES can even cause your artery wall to burst, called a popliteal aneurysm.

Treating PAES Pain in Houston

Once we’ve diagnosed PAES, treatment will involve relieving pressure on your popliteal artery or vein. As interventional radiologists, we will present you with different treatment options. The one that’s best for you will depend on the severity of pressure, and your present condition.

Ready to stop that calf hurt when running and find PAES relief? Don’t waste another day training through the pain. Schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston area vein specialists, and get back to feeling like your best and active self.

 

Sources: Henry Ford Livewell

Fight All-Day Sitting Problems with These Easy Tips

So many of us spend all day sitting at a desk, staring at our computers.  Especially now that many of us have moved to a work-from-home model. The longest we’re walking is from the couch to the kitchen for a snack! This sedentary lifestyle takes a toll on so many parts of our lives. Posture suffers. Our waistlines start to expand. And our veins don’t work as well as they should. Basically, sitting all day is slowly killing us.

Side Effects of Sitting all-day sitting hurts your veins

We know that sitting all day can lead to weight gain. But that’s not the only problem with sitting all day long. When you sit for too long, you may face challenges such as:

Shorter Life

The Cancer Prevention Study II showed that sitting more than six hours a day, vs. less than three hours per day, resulted in a higher risk of death. If you spend more time sitting, you are more likely to die from cardiac disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide.

Blood Clots

If you sit in one spot for more than four hours, you raise your risk for all forms of blood clots, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). That risk goes even higher if you are over the age of 40, obese, or recently had surgery. Even taking estrogen-based contraceptives, or hormone-replacement therapy drugs can raise your risk further. Also, being pregnant or being in the three-month post-partum window, being a cancer patient or recent cancer survivor, having varicose veins or a family history of blood clots will also worsen the risks of extended sitting.

And, more dangerously, sitting for long periods of time increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When you don’t move enough, your blood flow slows down. That’s when clots can form, break off, and move to other parts of your body. And if one of those clots reaches your lungs, you could develop a life-threatening pulmonary embolism .

Varicose Veins

These large, swollen veins can be a result of all-day sitting… or standing! Doing either activity for too long can cause blood to pool in your legs. And that collected blood puts more pressure on your veins, which can then stretch. When stretched, your vein walls weaken, and the valves that help your blood flow properly, can become damaged.

Reversing Effects of All-Day Sitting

Now, we know that sounds scary…and it is. All-day sitting is no joke for your health.  But, don’t fear: hope is here! According to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, just 30 minutes of physical activity in a day can fight those awful side effects of sitting.

Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center studied 7999 healthy people above the age of 45. Each participant had previously joined a study which monitored their activities for a minimum of 4 days a week.

Participants were followed for five years. Researchers collected data on the amount and intensity of their physical activity during that time. What they found was very exciting: any physical activity that lasted 30 minutes lowered your risk of a shortened life by a whopping 17 %! And, if you stepped up your activity game to at least a moderate intensity, that risk was cut by 35%.

Now, this study refers to moderate exercise levels. And, if you stick with moderate exercise, that 30 minutes a day is what you’ll need. Because, according to the World Health Organization, you need 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise each week to avoid the side effects of sitting.

But here’s some good news for all our HIIT lovers out there. If you engage in high intensity exercise, you only need 75 to 100 minutes of exercise each week to fight the effects of all-day sitting! So get ready to sweat hard–as long as your doctor has cleared you for more intense exercise!

How Can Physical Activity Fight Sitting Side Effects?

Getting active boosts your cardiovascular health. It helps keep your weight in check, lowers your cholesterol, builds bone and muscle strength and even improves your mental well-being. And exercise doesn’t have to happen at the gym. Try walking or jogging outside. Hop in the pool and cool off while boosting your heart rate. Even skipping the elevator in favor of the stairs can help up your activity levels and drop your risk of vein disease, diabetes, heart attacks and more.

Compression Socks and All-Day Sitting compression socks fight all-day sitting effects

If you’re sitting at home or at a desk all day, compression socks can help prevent problems. You don’t have to wear them all the time. But even keeping them on for a few hours while you sit could help.

Why is that the case? Compression socks can stop your legs and feet from feeling tired and achy. They can stop achy muscles, as well as swelling and pain. Plus they lower your risk for varicose veins and blood clots.

How can socks make such a difference? These socks put pressure on your leg, and that increases blood flow. Because the pressure relaxes your arteries while constricting your veins, so blood gets pushed back to your heart. This also means there’s more oxygen in your leg muscles, which reduces swelling. And the amount of blood that pools in your feet.

Now wearing these socks doesn’t mean you can avoid activity. But they can certainly help you avoid complications while you must be seated. Which can take the pressure off your veins when you’re stuck on Zoom all day.

Need more help managing your vein health? That’s what we’re here for! Schedule your vein health consultation today to prevent further damage from all-day sitting!

 

Sources: British Journal of Sports Medicine, American Journal of Epidemiology, Cancer.Org

 

Why did my feet turn darker than the rest of my skin?

Have you noticed the skin on your feet turn darker than other areas of your skin? Are you concerned that this may be a cause for concern? Well, if you are–you’re right! Darkening skin in your feet can be a sign of several different vein conditions. And all of them should be brought to your doctor’s attention.

Why Feet Turn Darker Changes in skin color, when feet turn darker, is a warning for vein disease

For light skinned individuals, several things can cause your feet to turn darker. In fact, feet that are darker than the rest of your skin can be a side effect of varicose veins. When you have varicose veins (incompetent veins that aren’t functioning properly) blood pools in your legs. And that leads to swelling–both in your veins and possibly in your legs themselves. In some instances, red blood cells may leak outside the varicose veins. These cells carry some red pigment that, over time, may turn black in color. When these cells end up in your feet, they may contribute to the darker skin color.

While an abundance of red blood cells may cause your feet to change color, lack of blood flow may also affect the appearance of your feet. As plaque builds up in our bodies due to fat and cholesterol, a condition known as Peripheral Arterial Diesease (PAD) may set in. PAD occurs when plaque sticks to your arteries, narrowing them significantly and thus affecting blood flow throughout your body. With PAD, less oxygen-rich blood may reach your feet. In contrast to skin darkening related to varicose veins, color changes related to PAD are unlikely to be accompanied by swelling. Additionally, your dark feet are likely to feel cold or even numb.

Smoking and Changes in Skin Color

While internal factors can certainly contribute to changes in the color of your feet, it’s also important to examine problems in your own habits. Smokers especially may notice marked changes in their skin color:

  1. Chemicals in cigarettes speed up the aging process, often leaving smokers with uneven skin tone.
  2. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, restricting oxygen and blood flow to your extremities. This makes smoking especially dangerous for people with vein conditions that already affect blood flow.
  3. Smokers’ wounds take longer to heal. If you smoke, have diabetes and notice your feet turning black, you may be dealing with a dangerous ulcer you haven’t even noticed.

    Cancer, Eczema and Other Potential Culprits

    While all these factors are less common, they could also change the color of your feet. Eczema, when it manifests on your feet can change the color of your skin tone. Another condition called venous eczema, or stasis dermatitis, can also change the color of your feet or legs.  With this inflammatory skin condition, your legs, ankles and feet may swell or show signs of inflammation. Aside from changing color, affected skin can feel dry, irritated and itchy.

    Stasis dermatitis may develop with chronic venous insufficiency, or circulatory problems. But it’s not the only health concern that can change your leg color. Because Kaposi’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that forms in lymph and blood vessels, can also make the skin on your feet appear darker due to the lesions that characterize this condition.

Houston Specialists Treating Feet That Turn Darker

Regardless of the reason for the change, when the skin on your feet turns dramatically darker, it should be cause for more than just cosmetic concern. All of the things that change the color of the feet will need medical attention, so this is one symptom you should never dismiss or ignore.

Now, when you come in for your vein consultation, your specialist will give you treatment options. You’ve got many choices when you want to treat varicose veins. But one choice, sclerotherapy, probably won’t be an option. You see, sclerotherapy is mostly a cosmetic treatment.

Of course, this is a great option if all you want is younger looking legs. It’s very effective when you’re dealing with spider veins, but not when you have varicose veins. And, if your feet turn darker, your disease is likely more serious. So you’ll need greater interventions to improve your health, and your leg and foot appearance.

Ready to make a big step towards reversing the skin damage of varicose veins? Come into our office right away. We’ll conduct a thorough examination and figure out your next best course of action.

Sources: Flux Magazine

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