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Category: Health Lifestyle

Three Easy Ways to Improve Blood Circulation

So many conditions can affect your blood’s ability to circulate through your body. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), chronic venous disease (CVD) and even varicose veins can all make it harder for blood to flow into or out of certain areas of your body, especially your lower extremities. That’s the bad news, but here’s some good: there are things you can do to improve that circulation. And, in this post, we’ll share our three favorites. But first, let’s help you figure out if compromised circulation may be affecting your health.

Symptoms of Poor Circulation

No matter what condition impacts your circulation, you will likely experience: pain, tingling, numbness and muscle cramps. Any of these symptoms should send you to see your vein doctor, so you can be scanned for conditions that may be affecting your blood flow. Once the cause of your circulatory problems has been diagnosed, your doctor may recommend one of the following therapies to improve your blood flow.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Changes in temperature can improve blood circulation. When trying cold changes, we can apply ice packs, cold sprays or even an ice massage. Cooling the area with poor blood flow initially constricts blood vessels in the area; when they warm up and dilate gain, blood flow to the area improves. A direct application of hot packs or other warming devices dilates your blood vessels, improving blood flow in the same manner as the after-effects of cold therapy.

Compression Therapy

Compression stockings improve circulation by putting pressure on your leg. That pressure helps push blood from the bottom of your legs into the deep venous system. And that helps blood return to your heart, helping mitigate symptoms of poor circulation. Even more importantly, compression therapy can reduce or eliminate edema (swelling that occurs in your legs, ankles or feet) and can help reduce the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a potentially deadly condition that often develops without any warning signs.)

Exercise

When you exercise, your muscles become stronger. And when your muscles are stronger, they are better able to help pump blood back to your heart.  For this reason, any weight-bearing exercise that your doctor approves can help improve your circulation. Aerobic exercise also improves your circulation—walking is a great option because it is low impact. Exercising in the pool packs a double whammy, because your body is able to feel lighter and move longer when you are floating in the water. Why is exercise so effective? As you move, you increase blood flow throughout your body. In other words, you force your blood to circulate!

Improving circulation will help manage the symptoms of decreased circulation, but if you want lasting relief, you will need to treat the underlying cause of your symptoms. So, if you have leg cramps, tingling or other symptoms of decreased blood flow, come see one of our Houston area vein specialists to discuss your treatment options.

 

Sources: The Sports Daily

Here’s One Smart Reason to Grab That Beer!

‘Tis the season to toast, and, as it turns out, that might not be such a bad thing after all. In fact, according to new 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 Consumption Can 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 new 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. In fact, you could use this post to feel even better about the extra glass or two you’re bound to enjoy as you wind down the holiday season and ring in the New Year!

Sources: British Medical Journal (BMJ)

Warning: Spanx and Skinny Jeans Could Kill your Veins

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.

How Compressing Shape Wear and Tight Clothing Harms 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.)

 

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.

Sources: Ehealth.cominny

Eat THIS Now if You Want to Lower Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major problem. It puts you at risk for all sorts of other health conditions, including venous insufficiency, heart attack and stroke. So, obviously, it’s important to maintain a healthy blood pressure level. And, according to studies, there’s one group of foods that can help you do that: the ones that are packed with probiotics.

How Probiotics Can Lower Your Blood Pressure

You probably already know that probiotics (live, good-for-you, bacteria) can help your gut and digestion. But did you also know that eating probiotics can help lower your body? Yup, that’s right!

According to research conducted at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine in Australia, consuming probiotic-packed foods (not just supplements) can help lower your blood pressure. Some of the best food sources for probiotics include yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi.

So, how did researchers find the connection between food and blood pressure? To reach their findings, Dr. Jing Sun and his team analyzed 543 with normal or high blood pressure. Next, they pored over studies that addressed their probiotic consumption.

And here’s what they found. Adults consuming probiotics daily for eight weeks or more had significantly lower systolic (pressure in the arteries when the heart beats) and diastolic (pressure in the arteries between heartbeats) blood pressure compared with those who didn’t eat probiotic-rich food.

Given the negative effects of high blood pressure, adding probiotic food sources to your diet should be a no-brainer. After all, it’s one of the few, drug-free methods out there to help take control of your blood pressure and stave off vein disease.

 

Sources: MedicalNewsToday.com

OMG: This is How Your Birth Month Determines the Way You’ll Die

Check out the discovery we’re calling the scariest of 2019. Late last year, that the time of year during which you were born can determine the way you die. More specifically, your birth month is directly linked to your odds of dying from heart disease! Want to know the worst birth months for heart health? Just keep reading!

Spring and Summer: The Seasons of Heart Disease

In a study published in The BMJ, researchers discovered that heart disease is more likely to kill you if you’re born from April to September, the spring and summer months.

Unfortunately, scientists can’t say exactly why these birth months increase your risk. But they do suggest that there’s a connection between your birth month, and your early exposure to seasonal dietary changes, available sunlight and air quality.

To reach these conclusions, they followed 116,911 women who were recruited for the study, and between the ages of 30 and 55 in 1976. Researchers examined the timing of their births, overall causes of death, and deaths caused specifically by heart disease.  Every two years, ending in 2014, the women completed health and lifestyle questionnaires.

By the end of the study period, over 43,000 of the women had died. And 8,360 of those women died of issues related to heart disease. While that figure may not seem so surprising, here’s what is: spring and summer babies were significantly more likely to have that cause of death when compared to their peers who were born in the fall. Still, without a direct causal link, the scientists warn us that this study is observation only. After all, they can’t completely rule out other, unmeasured factors that may contribute to the increased risk.  Still, if your birthday falls in this range—or even if it doesn’t—it’s important to learn the early warning signs of heart disease, so you can seek treatment at the first sign of a problem.

These are the Warning Signs for Heart Disease

Regardless of your risk for cardiovascular disease, you should never ignore these tell-tale symptoms, especially if they are sudden and unexplained:

1. Chest pain

2. Stomach pain

3. Sweating

4. Leg pain, especially when cramps appear with movement. This could be an early sign of of PAD (peripheral arterial disease).

5. Arm pain

6. Swollen ankles (edema), which can indicate circulatory problems or even heart failure.

7. Chronic exhaustion

On their own, any one of these symptoms should be a sign that it’s time to discuss your heart with a healthcare provider. But, in combination, consider these symptoms a potential emergency. Seek medical attention right away.

Sources: The BMJ, www.bmj.com

 

Over 50? Makes THESE 5 Vein-Saving Changes Right Now!

Varicose veins are a symptom of vein disease. They 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 that 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.

4.       Take a break. 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! And your Houston vein specialists think that’s something worth toasting in 2020!

Sources: Seniorific News

Swap Out Your Moisturizer if you Don’t Want THIS Happening to Your Veins

As residents of balmy Houston and its surroundings, cold weather is not usually something we have to worry about. But, with vacation looming, many of you will be heading off to ski vacations and, in some cases, sub-zero temperatures will be your new reality. For that reason, we wanted to share this very important winter weather warning. When the thermometer drops, the moisturizer you use could actually cause you to develop spider veins. Here’s what you need to know in order to stay safe.

The Danger of Cold Weather and Water-Based Moisturizer

When you go out in super-cold temperatures, your skin gets even more dry, red and flaky than it would on your typical winter day. So, your natural response would be to heap on more moisturizer. Sounds like a good idea, in theory, but only if you choose the right type of product.

According to celebrity facialist Joanna Czech, who shared her tips with In Style magazine, you can’t use a water-based moisturizer when temperatures dip below freezing. Why? Thanks to its water content, the cream could actually freeze in your pores once you step outdoors. And that could lead to a whole lot of problems.

As Czech explained, “Water freezes on the skin in sub-zero temperatures the same way it does in the freezer and it expands. And the same way that placing a glass filled with water in the freezer will break from expansion, in the skin, the expansion squeezes and breaks capillaries causing, permanent broken blood vessels (also referred to as spider veins).”

Choosing Better Winter Moisturizers

So, what’s a better option when your skin is screaming for moisture but the temperatures just won’t rise? Opt for a thick, rich, oil-based moisturizer. This kind of formula has the added bonus of boosting your skin’s lipidic layer, so its existing moisture gets locked in and barred from escaping.

Of course, this freezing-action will only happen if the temperature falls below zero degrees AND you stay outside long enough for your core body temperature to drop (at which point, you’ll likely be facing bigger issues than spider veins.)

Still, oil-based formulas are more protective forms of hydration during the dry winter months. So, to help your skin hold on to its moisture, check for ingredients or seek out creams (oil-based) instead of ointments (water-based.) And here’s to our mild, humid Houston climate, where we rarely need to worry about dried out skin!

 

Sources: In Style Magazine

 

6 Signs Your Circulation is Compromised (And What to do About it)

You may know that poor circulation can put your vein health at risk. But would you know if your circulation was already compromised? As it turns out, there are several early symptoms that you’ll notice when your circulation first becomes compromised. And we’re here to help you identify those warnings signs, so you can see your vein specialist and get help right away.

Symptoms of Poor Circulation

When your circulation is sluggish, or not working as well as it should, you may notice that:

·         Your hands and feet are often cold, or even numb

·        Muscle cramps pop up, especially in your legs

·         You experience tingling, throbbing or stinging leg pain

·         There’s a blue tint to the skin on your legs

·         The hair on your legs and feet may fall out

·        Nails get brittle and skin is dry

Now you know some of the warning signs of poor circulation, here’s how you can give your circulatory system a boost.

How Can I Improve my Circulation?

The most important way to protect your circulation is to live a healthy lifestyle. And that includes dropping your nicotine habit if you smoke or vape. Why is that so crucial? Nicotine hits your circulatory system with a two-part punch: first, it thickens your blood, which slows down its flow. Plus, it causes your blood vessels to narrow, which makes it even more difficult for blood to circulate through your body.

Of course, not smoking is important, but on its own, this step won’t completely protect you from circulatory problems. You should also strive to maintain a healthy blood pressure—have your levels checked regularly by your doctor, and strive to maintain a reading of 120 over 80 (or lower.) If you aren’t in that optimal range, discuss ways of lowering your pressure with your healthcare provider.

Lifestyle Changes to Boost Circulation

Certain lifestyle habits can also help improve your circulation—especially good hydration. Since your blood is about half water, staying hydrated helps keep it flowing through your body. It’s also important to move frequently throughout your day. Sitting or standing in one spot for extended periods of time takes a major toll on your circulation. Simply taking more walking breaks can do wonders, but consider stepping up your aerobic exercise by incorporating regular 30 minute sessions into your weekly routine. Swimming and biking are great, low-impact options.

Your diet matters, too, when it comes to circulation. Eat lots of fruits and veggies, and carefully monitor (and limit) your salt intake. You should also limit (or avoid) the saturated fats found in many cheeses and animal proteins, as they can lead to fatty build-ups in your arteries, which will further hamper circulation.

And, finally, if circulation problems are already seriously impacting your health, you may want to being compression therapy. This sounds scarier than it actually is. In fact, this form of therapy involves the regular wearing of compression stockings. These simple pieces of clothing (which now come in a variety of styles and colors) put a little pressure on your legs to help get blood out of the area and back up to your heart.  This can improve your circulation and limit many of the symptoms association with circulatory problems, like spider veins or heavy, achy legs.

 

If left untreated, circulatory problems can cause you to experience serious health problems. But if you take note of early warning signals and seek treatment from your Houston vein specialists, you can improve your circulation and avoid or even reverse any associated complications!

 

Sources: SCNow.com

These Jobs Can Increase Your Risk for Vein Disease

Living a healthy lifestyle—full of exercise and nourishing food—can go a long way towards protecting your vein and cardiovascular health. But what happens when your profession increases your risk for developing spider veins? You learn the facts and take action to keep your job from hurting your health! That’s why we’re sharing this important information.

Professions that Increase your Varicose Vein Risk Spider veins

Certain jobs can take a major toll on your veins, increasing the likelihood of problems. Some of the top professions include:

Teachers

Standing all day puts a lot of pressure on your veins. And many teachers stand in front of a class from 8 am until 3 pm, with very few opportunities to sit and rest. Want to minimize your risk? Take a quick trip to the teacher’s lounge and sit down, with your feet up, whenever possible.

Wait staff

Waiters and restaurant hosts stay on their feet for their entire shifts. And while waiters at least have the benefit of walking between tables and the kitchen, helping pump some of the blood out of their legs, hosts stay in one spot, greeting diners as they arrive. In order to mitigate risks, try to limit shift length and give extra attention to your feet and legs on days when you’re not on the job.

Flight attendants 

Long flights take a toll on everybody’s vein health. So, imagine flying every day AND spending the majority of that flying time on your feet, serving needy passengers. People who fly for a living need to practice vein-saving, in-flight exercises (see image at right for one example) in order to minimize their risk of complications.

Office Staff

As it turns out, sitting all day isn’t so great for your vein health, either. The effects are similar to all-day standing: blood will start to pool in your feet and legs, making your valves and veins work harder to get it back up to your heart. Taking frequent walking breaks can help mitigate the risk of sitting at your computer all day.

Lowering On-the-Job Vein Health Risks

Aside from the job-specific tips we already shared, here are some other steps you can take to minimize your risk for varicose veins:

·         Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

·         Consider compression stockings to help boost circulation in your lower extremities

·         When you do sit, avoid crossing your legs

·         Elevate your feet for at least 30 minutes, every day

·         Get regular cardiovascular exercise (it doesn’t need to be high-impact. Even walking will make a major difference!)

 

What to Watch for if Your Varicose Vein Risk is Elevated

If your job puts you in a higher risk category for vein disease, you should see a vein specialist if you notice any of the following symptoms:

·         Swollen lumpy veins

·         Color changes in your veins, specifically if they appear to be dark blue or purple

·         Leg pain or legs that feel heavy

 

Of course, you don’t have to see symptoms of varicose veins in order to visit our Houston area vein clinics. If you know your risk for vein disease is already elevated, proactive vein care could go a long way towards preventing negative outcomes!

 

 

Don’t Get THIS Manicure if you Have Vein Disease

A lot of nail salons offer numerous manicure options. 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. Let’s take a closer look at the procedure, so you can understand the potential risks to your vein health.

What happens during a paraffin manicure?

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.

Sources: healthline.com