Skip to content

Category: Health Lifestyle

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

These are the best (And Worst) Exercises if you have Varicose Veins

In general, exercising is good for your health. But when vein disease gives you  varicose veins, some exercises can hurt your condition. Read on for our ‘dos’ and don’ts’ of exercising with varicose veins.

The Best Exercises for Varicose Vein Sufferers

First things first: if you have vein disease, talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. Once you’re cleared for activity, our Houston area vein specialists recommend starting with low-impact workouts like walking, bicycling or swimming.

Why are these great choices? We like vein disease sufferers to use their legs. When you do, you strengthen those muscles, making them contract harder  and helping push blood out of your legs and back up to your heart.

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

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

What Workouts Should I Avoid if I have Varicose Veins?

When you have varicose veins, some workouts might actually worsen your condition. We tell our patients to avoid exercises that like lifting weights, squatting, or even some yoga poses. Anything that increases pressure on your abdomen and lower body is not recommended, since it can reduce or stop the amount of blood flowing from your legs back to your heart. That, in turn, may allow blood to pool in your legs, causing your veins to stretch out and, possibly, fail.

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

When Should I Treat my Varicose Veins?

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

 

DVT and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

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

Many factors can elevate your risk of DVT, including long plane flights, surgery and your age. But for this post, we’re going to look at the connection between pregnancy and your risk for DVT. When you are pregnant, the blood-clotting factors in your body fluctuate, making clotting more likely. In fact, most pregnant women have a DVT rate that is five-times higher than when they are not expecting. And this elevated risk is a very big deal: DVT is one of the leading killers for pregnant women; your DVT risk is highest in your third trimester and for the first week after delivering your baby.

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

 

Managing Your DVT Risk During Pregnancy

If you already had a history of blood clots before getting pregnant, your doctor may suggest taking blood thinners while you are expecting. But if you are an otherwise-healthy woman, making smart lifestyle choices during pregnancy can help manage your risk for DVT. Following a healthy diet, and preventing gestational diabetes, can help lower your DVT risk, since being overweight can also increase your likelihood for DVT. Sticking to a regular, doctor-approved exercise program can also help lower your risk for DVT. Of course, there are never guarantees when it comes to clot prevention. So, if you are pregnant and concerned about clotting, we invite you to discuss your DVT risk with one of our Houston-area vein specialists!

 

 

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.

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.

What is Interventional Radiology?

So often, we get asked about our medical specialty: what does it mean to be an interventional radiologist? At the most basic level, it means we provide treat a range of medical conditions, from spider veins to peripheral arterial disease, and more, with minimally invasive techniques.

The doctors at our Houston area vein clinics attended four years of medical school. Next, they completed four-year  diagnostic radiology residencies and Interventional Radiology fellowships.

Our goal as interventional radiologists is to offer less expensive, less invasive alternative to surgery. And our procedures come with shorter recovery periods, less pain and lower risks of complications.

But what does an interventional radiology procedure look like? Let’s take a closer look.

How does an IR procedure work?

During an IR procedure, your interventional radiologist is guided by an image, such as that from an ultrasound. This gives us a live picture of less accessible parts of your body. Making just a small incision, we guide that image to  the remote location in your body using a catheter. And that’s why your treatments don’t require major surgical incisions!

Interventional radiology procedures include:

And so much more!

 

Interventional Radiology vs. Surgery: What’s the Benefit?

As we mentioned, IR procedures hurt less than surgeries. They are less likely to leave a scar and, thanks to image guidance, are often more precise than surgical procedures.

Many times, they can be performed with no overnight hospital stays. And no hospital stay means less out-of-pocket expenses for most patients!

So, does less pain, less cost, less risk and more accuracy sounds like what you’re looking for in a vein treatment? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Simply schedule a consultation with one of our highly trained Interventional Radiologists to learn if you are a good candidate for our treatment protocols.

Will High Heels Give me Spider Veins?

So many women have closets packed with high heels. Let’s face it, stilettos can be great–they make your legs look longer, they give you extra inches, and they add a stylish finish to almost any outfit.

That’s the good news about high heels…but here’s the not-so-good news. While wearing high heels won’t directly cause you to develop varicose veins, they can contribute to this problem by affecting blood flow in your veins. And, not surprisingly, the higher the heels, the bigger the negative impact on your vein health.

What Are Varicose Veins?

To understand the connection between high heels and varicose veins, we must first understand this problem and why it happens.

Over 25 million Americans have varicose veins. Some people will recognize the problem right away, thanks to visible symptoms like bulging veins or brightly colored veins that are visible on the skin’s surface.

Some symptoms of varicose veins are less obvious:  heaviness, aching, swelling, tiredness, burning, stinging, and leg cramps are all signs that you may have a problem. Other symptoms, like swollen legs, changes in your skin and even ulcers are also symptoms of spider veins, but they can often be mistaken for other conditions.

Varicose veins are a faulty part of the venous system, which is just a group of pipes, pumps, and valves in your body. Veins are ‘pipes’ for blood. Valves are like stop signs that keep the blood flowing in the right direction–either up to your heart or away from your heart to your other body parts.

When any part of your venous system stops doing its job properly, blood can begin to pool in your veins, causing them to stretch and bulge. That’s when you may notice symptoms of varicose veins.

High Heels and Blood Flow

When you walk, blood starts pumping in your foot and calf. Blood starts moving up the veins in your legs. Valves help that blood fight gravity and keep flowing up towards your heart.

Of course, that’s the case when your’re walking normally.  When you stride wearing basic, supportive shoes, your foot and calf work together. Veins in your foot fill it with blood as it lifts off the floor. When your heel and arch land back on the floor, that blood starts flowing into the relaxed veins in your calf. Once there, your calf muscles get to work, pushing blood into the deep veins in your legs.

High heels are a game changer in this system because of the way they affect your stride. When you’re rocking those three-inch stilettos, your heel never touches the ground. All your weight stays in your toes and the balls of your feet. Plus, because of the angle of your body, your calf muscles never get the chance to relax when you’re in heels.

The result of these stride changes is fairly significant. Your foot gets less filled with blood; your calf muscles are less effective when they try to pump blood up to your heart. The decreased pump strength can leave some blood behind in your legs, allowing it to build up and pool in your veins. When this happens, your vein health may suffer.

Preventing Spider Veins 

While no one expects you to give up high heels completely, there are steps you can take to limit the damage to your veins:

  1. Save those stilettos for short events and special occasions.
  2. Stick to heels that are no more than three inches (and shorter is even better).
  3. If you’re going to be in heels for a while, consider throwing on a pair of compression stockings.
  4. Strengthen your calf muscles once the heels come off by sneaking in a few sets of heel raises.
  5. Check in with your Houston vein specialist if you start noticing any of the spider vein symptoms we discussed above.

 

While high heels don’t directly cause spider veins, they may create an environment that compromises your overall vein health. If you already have spider veins, or have a family history of vein disease, keeping a close watch on your shoe closet is a very good idea.

 

Sources: New York Times

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! Leg cramps are often a symptom of a more serious medical condition. Here are four health problems that could be causing you to experience leg cramps:

What’s the Cause of My Leg Cramps?

  1. Serious Disease
    Certain vein diseases can cause you to experience leg cramps. Two likely causes are varicose veins (incompetent veins that have started to swell) or chronic venous insufficiency (CVI, a condition in which your valves don’t work the way they’re supposed to, so some of your blood flows down into your legs instead of upwards to return to your heart). Cardiac diseases and degenerative disc conditions may also cause you to experience leg cramps.
  2. Dehydration
    Leg cramps can also be caused by dehydration, which can occur 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. The cramps may be experienced 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.

    Seeking Treatment for Leg Cramps

    When dealing with a relatively minor complication like leg cramps, it can be tempting to ignore your symptoms and simply hope they go away after a while. If leg cramps are your problem, however, ignoring the issue can be dangerous. Since leg cramps can be symptoms of so many serious medical problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away is you are affected by this concern.

Sources: healthline.com, medicinenet.com, mayoclinic.org

Fight All-Day Sitting with This Easy Tip

So many of us spend all day sitting at a desk, staring at our computers.  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.

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%.

Sitting Kills You in So Many Ways

We touched on some obvious effects of sitting. But there are so many more effects we haven’t reviewed yet. Sitting can cause inflammation, impact insulin resistance, and up your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Sitting also impacts your blood flow, causing blood to start pooling in your legs and feet. That pooling blood can increase your risk for varicose veins or even deep vein thrombosis ()DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal condition.)

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.

Sources: American Journal of Epidemiology