Category: Health Lifestyle

Here’s One Smart Reason to Grab That Beer!

Did you know that beer can help your heart? Well, it’s true! ‘Tis the season for grilling and chilling, and, as it turns out, that might not be such a bad thing after all. In fact, according to research, picking up your wine glass or beer mug may have a very beneficial effect on your health. Especially when it comes to your risk of contracting certain circulatory conditions, including Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.)

How Wine and Beer Help Your Heart

Now, this information isn’t entirely new. We’ve all heard rumbles about how red wine—in moderation—is good for your heart. So what’s exciting about this research out of Cambridge and University College London (UCL)?

For one thing, the researchers are giving us updated quantities. Now, they recommend drinking about 1.5 bottles of wine each week, or seven  beers. But that’s not all the research suggests. As it turns out, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is actually better than not drinking at all.

How did they reach this conclusion? Researchers analyzed data from close to 2 million United Kingdom residents. They discovered that avoiding alcohol and drinking a lot gave you a higher risk for seven different heart conditions. And those conditions include PAD, heart attacks and strokes.

Lead researcher Steven Bell explained that moderate alcohol intake reduces inflammation while boosting good cholesterol levels. Plus, moderate drinking can be social. And connecting with peers improves your overall well-being, including your heart health.

The Impact of Alcohol Avoidance

Now, researchers discovered the benefits of moderate drinking. But, they also found problems with avoiding alcohol completely. In fact, as compared to moderate drinkers, people with zero alcohol intake were more likely to experience angina, heart attacks, sudden coronary death, heart failure, strokes due to lack of blood flow, abdominal aneurysms and peripheral arterial disease.

There was, however, a silver-lining for sober people: not-drinking had no impact on the risk of experiencing cardiac arrest or strokes unrelated to blood flow problems. And, for those who have good reason to avoid alcohol, the researchers noted that alcohol isn’t the only path to decreased risk of heart problems. If you have a good reason not to drink (and there are plenty) you can improve your heart health and decrease your risk of disease with many other lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise. But, if you’re all about moderate, social drinking, take “heart” in these findings, which both Harvard Medical School and John Hopkins Public School of Health have signed off on. And check out these findings about exercise, PAD, and your sedentary or “down” time.

Exercise Therapy for PAD

Drinking beer to help your heart is one way to protect your blood flow. But if you already have PAD, your doctor may recommend a walking-workout to reduce cramping and improve your blood flow. On its own, the benefits of walking can improve your PAD symptoms. But, according to new research, reducing your sedentary time can maximize those results.

According to findings in the Annals of Palliative Medicine, spending less time lying around made exercise more effective for PAD patients. In fact, the less sedentary time recorded by patients, the longer they were able to walk on treadmills (without pain) at the end of the 12-week study period.

What does that mean for you? Go ahead and grab that beer to help your heart. But, instead of sitting down to sip your tall frosty, why not take a little walk around your yard while you do so? Then, if you have any warning signs of PAD, be sure to make an immediate appointment with our Houston area vein and arterial specialists!

 

Sources: British Medical Journal (BMJ)

Over 50 Vein Care? Makes THESE 5 Changes Right Now!

Over 50 vein care looks different because of your increased risk for vein disease. And, since Varicose veins are a symptom of vein disease, you’ll want to prevent or treat this symptom. Here’s what to look for:

Varicose veins bulge, twist and show up in dark colors because they are filled with pooling blood. When the blood pools, it’s because the valves in your vessels aren’t working properly, which makes it tougher to deliver blood back to your heart from your legs.

As you get older, your risk of developing varicose veins increases. In fact, by the time you reach 50, about 40% of women and 20% of men will be dealing with varicose veins. Still, celebrating another birthday doesn’t have to mean that varicose veins are your next inevitable milestone. Instead, try making these important lifestyle changes. They can help prevent new varicose veins from developing, and may help reduce the risk of existing ones.

Lifestyle Changes to Protect Against Varicose Veins

If you want to reduce your vein disease risk, try these five steps:

1.       Work your legs.

Increasing your physical activity level, especially with moves like daily walks, strengthens the muscles in your calves. And when those muscles are stronger, they contract harder, helping to get pooled blood up and out of your legs.

2.       Know your ‘don’ts.’

Avoid sitting for extended periods of time—set a reminder, if necessary, to get up and walk around every 30 minutes. When you are sitting, try not to cross your legs. And, when choosing your OOTD (outfit of the day), steer clear of clothes that cling tightly to your waist, thighs or upper legs (take note of the exception in our next step.)

3.       Try compression stockings.

If your vein specialists agrees, compression stockings can help improve your circulation; they place gentle pressure on your legs, keeping blood moving and helping to reduce any existing swelling. You can wear your compression socks all day long. (Or even during short naps.) And doing so will boost your circulation. But when you get into bed at night, give yourself a break and take off those compression garments. Because, unless you have venous leg ulcers, sleeping in compression socks isn’t necessary. In fact, it could cause other problems. So take a break at night, and…

4.       Take a break during the day, too.

When you are sitting down, get those feet up. Ideally, you’ll elevate them above the level of your heart. Why does this work so well? Aside from feeling a little indulgent, elevating your feet will get gravity on your side to help prevent blood from pooling in your legs.

5.       Lose some weight.

This is, of course, one of the hardest changes to make. But this is the time of year where people commit to taking better care of their bodies. So, if you’re carrying some extra weight right now, consider a New Year’s resolution to eat better and move more (see step 1.) You’ll be helping your veins, your heart, and your over-all wellbeing!

6. See Your Houston Vein Specialists

Remember, over 50 vein care has two parts: prevention and treatment. So, if you’ve already noticed spider veins, don’t wait until they become a bigger issue. Instead, make an appointment at one of our Houston-area clinics right away. After a diagnostic ultrasound, we can help you decide the next best steps towards protecting your vein health for the next 50 years!

Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Senior News

The Link Between Infertility and Varicose Veins

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

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

Plus, with varicose veins, your risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) increases. And having a history of DVT can impact your risk for other intimate concerns. Which includes Penile Mondor Disease, a condition that leads to blood clots in the superficial veins of your penis.

How do Varicoceles Affect Fertility? varicocele and male infertility consult

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

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

Staying Active With Varicose Veins

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

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

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

Other Concerns with Veins in the Penis

While rare, some men develop inflammation in their penile veins, triggering a condition called Penile Mondor Disease (PMD). That inflammation raises your risk for blood clots. And it can also cause pain or swelling in the area.

Usually, your genetics play a role in your PMD risk level. But trauma to the area (like with a sports injury) or vigorous or extended sexual encounters also up your risk. If you have PMD, your first symptom will likely be hardening of the vein on top of your penis. (This should occur between 24-48 hours after the troubling incident.) The skin may also turn red, edema may develop, and you may experience throbbing pain, especially with an erection. If you have PMD, urinating may also be painful or difficult.

We can usually diagnose PMD with a physical exam, but in some cases you’ll need an ultrasound as well. In most cases, PMD clears up on its own. So your treatment will involve support for your pain and inflammation. But, for some men, this condition becomes a recurring problem. And, in those cases, you may need to treat your problematic vein. Just like you would with varicoceles.

Treating Male Varicose Veins

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

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

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

Sources: Society of Interventional Radiology

8 Ways to Safely Fly With Varicose Veins

Are you worried about flying with varicose veins? Right now, we know everyone is worried about the safety of air travel. Even as Texas reopens for business, we know you’ve still got worries.

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, although this is officially the summer of the road trip. But, if you choose to fly, or even if you’re stuck sitting for a long drive, follow these three tips for long travel with vein disease: plane exercises

1. Rock your compression socks while flying with varicose veins

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

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

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

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

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

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 leg room 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

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%. 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 Paraffin Manicures and Vein Disease Don’t Mix

A lot of nail salons offer numerous options like paraffin manicures. From gels to press on nails; French tips to nail art, the choices are lengthy. And, for the most part, all of these options are safe for people with vein disease—as long as the salon is clean, of course.

There is, however, one key exception. If you have varicose veins—those twisted, bulging, highly visible signs of vein disease—you should absolutely avoid paraffin manicures. Now, remember, varicose veins are often a sign of chronic venous insufficiency.  As it turns out, about 40 million Americans suffer from this condition. But only 6%-8% of those people seek treatment for the disease. In other words, lots of people are walking around with vein disease, and need to be careful about avoiding paraffin manicures. So let’s take a closer look at the procedure, to help you  understand the potential risks to your vein health.

What happens during paraffin manicures?

A paraffin manicure involves paraffin wax—a beeswax and petroleum derivative that has no smell or color. During this manicure, your hands dip into or get painted with several layers of heated wax. Next, your nail tech covers your hand with a plastic glove and a hot towel. Often, but not always, the wax will also contain a mix of essential oils to enhance the experience.

The wax gets peeled away once everything has cooled down, and everything that happens next looks exactly like a regular manicure. For people with healthy veins, paraffin manicures can provide lovely moisture to your dry hands. It can also help you lock in your body’s natural oils to prevent future dryness. And, thanks to the heated component of this treatment, paraffin manicures can help increase blood flow to your hands, alleviating joint pain and stiffness—at least, temporarily. So, why don’t paraffin manicures and varicose veins make a good pair? As it turns out, it’s all about the circulation.

Paraffin Wax and Varicose Veins: a Bad Combination

Paraffin manicures aren’t recommended for people with varicose veins, hypertension or diabetes, because it can impact your circulation, causing you to experience numbness or unusual sensations. Why? When you apply hot wax to certain parts of your body, blood rushes to that area. But that also takes blood away from other areas, like your legs and feet, which already have limited blood flow if you’re living with conditions like chronic venous insufficiency. And because you may not be aware of the side effects of other spa treatments, you should talk to your vein specialist before hitting the salon for any new procedure or treatment.

Hoping to enjoy any manicure on the menu? We’re here to help. We can help you manage your venous insufficiency, improving your blood flow and making it safer for you to enjoy little indulgences like paraffin manicures. All you have to do is reach out to our Houston vein specialists and request an appointment. We can evaluate your current state of vein health, and help you choose the best way forward.

Sources: healthline.com

Learn the Hidden Danger of Spanx and Skinny Jeans

Sure, they feel tight, but did you know there’s a hidden danger of Spanx and skinny jeans? And that’s a big problem, because so many women love to rock these style staples? To begin with, let’s take an impromptu poll: raise your hand if you’ve ever squeezed into shape wear so that little black dress fit just a bit better. Or if your jeans are so snug they could be painted on your legs.

So many of us have, and why not? It seems like a foolproof way to look our best without having to suffer through hours at the gym or weeks of deprivation. But there is a catch: spending too much time in restrictive clothing and shape wear can actually take a toll on your body.

Danger of Spanx and Tight Clothing for Your Health

Wearing tight clothes like skinny jeans or compression garments  restricts circulation in your legs. It leaves your blood stagnant and can worsen varicose veins.

These garments also put added pressure on your abdomen. Eventually, that pressure travels down to your legs, ultimately hindering your blood flow.

After a few hours in Spanx, skinny jeans or other compression garments, you may start to experience:

Tingling and Numbness

Since shape wear has to put a lot of pressure on your midsection to keep your rolls in check, it also restricts circulation to your lower body. Over time, if you wear these garments frequently, you may develop a condition called meralgia paresthetica, with symptoms like numbness, pain, and tingling in your legs and feet.

Varicose Veins or Blood Clots

Unfortunately, compression garments can also affect your vein health. When your midsection is on lock down, it’s tough for blood to get down to your legs and feet (see above.) But it’s also tough for the blood already in your lower extremities to get back up to your heart when it has to pass through the compression zone. That means blood can pool in your lower body, putting pressure on your veins until they bulge and become visible through your skin (spider veins.)  With repetitive wears, the damage to your veins may be cumulative, and may even increase your risk of blood clots, since varicose veins are a risk factor for DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of your legs.)

Dangers of DVT

This last danger of Spanx is a big one. According to the American Heart Association, 2.5 Million Americans suffer from DVT each year. And, of those people, 600,000 end up in the hospital. Your DVT risk is highest if you’re over 60, but this potentially life-threatening condition can strike at any age. For that reason, if you have any DVT risk factors, including long flights or road trips, age, venous insufficiency and, yes, wearing Spanx, our office is happy to offer DVT screenings.

Stay Safe and Smooth with Shapewear

Now, we know how great your shapewear is, so we’re not telling you to throw it out the window. Instead, we’re suggesting caution. Don’t wear compressive garments all day, every day: instead, leave them for special events with limited hours. And when you are wearing them, give your circulatory system and veins a little help by taking walking breaks: the movement will get your leg muscles pumping, which can help get blood flowing into and out of your legs.

And remember: if you have any symptoms, follow these important steps. Stop wearing your Spanx right away, and see if your symptoms improve. Then, if you still notice issues, call the office right away for an immediate appointment.

Sources:: American Heart Association

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

Eat This: Zinc, Vitamin B, and Other Nutrients for Vein Health

Did you know that your diet should include important nutrients for vein health? 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!

Other Nutrients for Vein Health

Now you’ve seen how zinc can help your veins–and COVID 19. But there are other important nutrients you should add to your diet, in order to boost circulation and protect your vascular system. Here are some of the top choices:

Vitamin B

The family of B vitamins can do great things for your vascular health. If you have varicose veins, taking B6 can help them heal. Vitamin B12 improves blood flow, and B3 can lower cholesterol while boosting circulation.

Vitamin B6 can restore vein health, making it a good choice for varicose vein sufferers. Vitamins B6 and B12 promote healthy blood flow. Vitamin B3, or niacin, aids in blood circulation and lowering blood cholesterol.

What to eat: Brown rice, wheat, barley, turkey and tuna.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can preserve flexibility in your vein walls, and reduce arterial inflammation.

What to eat: berries, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, and lemons.

Vitamin K

This nutrient for vein health can help you prevent blood clots! It can also keep blood from pooling, which will reduce your risk for varicose veins.

What to eat: parsley, mustard seeds, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and pumpkin.

Need more help preserving your vein health? That’s what we’re here for! Schedule an appointment with our Houston area vein specialists today. We can get a better picture of your current risk factors, and help you with diet and lifestyle changes to treat any existing issues.

 

 

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

These are 4 Reasons Why Your Legs Cramp

Deep Vein Thrombosis
Leg cramps could be a sign of serious medical conditions: don’t ignore this painful problem!

Leg cramps: they’re painful and annoying. But did you know they could be more than just a nuisance? Yes, that’s right! These cramps are often a symptom of a more serious medical condition. Here are four health problems that could give you cramps. (Plus what you need to do about them.)

What’s Causing My Leg Cramps?

Anytime you have a new symptom, you want to know the cause. But something like leg cramps could seem unimportant. After all, they usually pass quickly. And they aren’t crippling. Still, cramps in your leg may actually indicate bigger health problems that are brewing. Here are four possible reasons your legs cramp. (All of which are worth discussing with your Houston vein specialist!)

  1. Serious Disease

    Certain vein diseases can trigger cramping. Two likely causes are varicose veins (incompetent veins that have started to swell) or chronic venous insufficiency. (Also called CVI, this is a condition in which your valves don’t work the way they’re supposed to. And the walls of your veins weaken. For those reasons, some of your blood flows down into your legs instead of upwards to return to your heart). If CVI is the problem, the pain in your legs could also throb or ache. And you may experience other symptoms such as itchy skin on your feet and legs. Flaking skin, swelling (edema) and even ulcers or deep vein thrombosis (DVT.)

    Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) may also cause cramping in your legs. But unlike CVI cramps, the ones you notice with PAD usually appear when you’re active. Then, as soon as you sit and rest, they resolve. Pad and other cardiac diseases cause leg cramps, as do degenerative disc conditions. All of which could trigger serious health complications. So you must discuss these symptoms with your doctor.

  2. Dehydration

    Dehydration can also cause leg cramps. And you get dehydrated for several different reasons: not enough water intake in warm weather; certain dehydrating beverages like coffee and black tea, or certain medications with diuretic effects. Kidney conditions may also affect your ability to remain hydrated.

  3. Thyroid Irregularities

    When your thyroid is functioning too slowly (hypothyroidism), you may experience several symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, difficulties thinking clearly and cramps in your muscles, especially in your legs.

  4. Vitamin Deficiencies

    Leg cramps can also be the result of a magnesium, potassium or calcium deficiency in your body. You may notice the cramps in your toes, calves, the arches of your feet, and/or the backs of your legs. Many pregnant women will experience vitamin deficiencies, and pregnant women are also more vulnerable to vein conditions like varicose veins, so expectant mothers should pay extra close attention to symptoms like leg cramps.

    Treating Leg Cramps in Houston

    When dealing with a relatively minor complication like leg cramps, it can be tempting to ignore your symptoms. You may simply hope they go away after a while. But, as you’ve seen, this minor annoyance could be a sign of a major issue. So ignoring the issue can be dangerous.

    Since leg cramps can be symptoms of so many serious medical problems, it’s important to see our vein specialists right away if you experience this symptom. Ready to get help? Reach out to our office today for an immediate appointment.

Sources: Medicine Net , Mayo Clinic

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