Category: Health Lifestyle

Good and Bad Cholesterol, PAD and Your Veins

In recent years, we’ve told healthy eaters  to focus on ‘good cholesterol.’ That good cholesterol is also called HDL. And it’s touted it’s heart health benefits. Popular diet plans, like the Keto diet, focus on high fat intake. These suggest that eating good fats will be good for you!

What’s behind this idea? The thinking is that LDL (bad cholesterol), not HDL,  causes plaque to build up in your arteries. This build up then leads to conditions like peripheral arterial disease (PAD). And when people have PAD,  blood flow from their heart to the rest of their body slows down. In turn, this can lead to pain, cramping, ulcers and blood clots.

According to old beliefs, HDL moved LDL away from arteries and into the liver. That seemed to prevent the kind of plaque build up that leads to PAD. Because of that kind of thinking, people were encouraged to eat foods that were rich in HDL, like olive oil, salmon and avocado. But now, research is turning that kind of thinking around, warning us that too much HDL can be just as ‘bad’ for your body as the other kind of cholesterol.

The Problem with Good Cholesterol

In this Emory University study, researchers followed 6000 people with an average age of 63 to assess their risk of heart attack or death. As we might have expected from previous studies, participants with middling HDL levels (between 41–60 milligrams per decilitre) had the lowest risk of adverse cardiovascular events. People with HDL levels below that range did, in fact, show increased risk of heart attack.

But here’s the shocking part: people with HDL levels ABOVE that range had the highest risk levels. In fact, their risk of cardiovascular events were increased by 50%! Scientists think that this increased risk is because, in high volumes, HDL may change its behavior. Instead of pulling LDL away from the arteries, it may actually transfer the LDL onto the artery walls, increasing people’s risk of vascular diseases like PAD.

While the evidence is clear in suggesting that high HDL levels increase your risk of heart attack, it is not yet proven that too much good cholesterol is the actual cause of this increased risk. At the same time, it is fact that the ‘right’ amount of HDL can protect your heart health. Given these facts, our Houston vein specialists do not yet recommend changing your diet. Instead we suggest eating heart-healthy fats in moderation. That, combined with a sensible diet and exercise, should keep you in the proven ‘safe’ zone for cholesterol.

Early Warnings about High Good and Bad Cholesterol

Here’s what else we’ve learned about cholesterol and PAD. Once, we didn’t worry about high cholesterol levels in young people. We thought they had plenty of time to turn the ship around, and take back control of their heart health. But now, a study from the Journal of American Cardiology has a dire warning. According to these findings, having high cholesterol in your teens and 20s is a major risk factor for PAD and other forms of heart disease.

What’s behind these findings? It goes back to bad cholesterol, or LDL levels. Apparently,. the damage LDL causes to your arteries is irreversible. In other words, even if you bring down your bad cholesterol levels in your 30s, you may not be able to prevent hardening of the arteries. Given these findings, treating high cholesterol is critical at any age. Like vein treatments, delaying cholesterol interventions can lead to worse health conditions. Which means you must seek therapy at the first sign of a good and bad cholesterol problem.

Ready to take control of your cholesterol, vein and arterial health? We’re here to help, and we suggest starting with a diagnostic ultrasound. With this tool, we can detect if cholesterol has caused any problems, and get you started on appropriate health care.

Sources: European Society of Cardiology, Science Daily, Journal of the American College of Cardiology

The Dos and Don’ts of Exercise and Varicose Veins

Let’s talk about exercise and varicose veins. We all know that exercise is good for your general health. But when vein disease gives you varicose veins, some exercises will help you, while others can hurt your condition. Usually, exercising more will make your veins bigger. That’s because they have to send all that pumping blood back to your heart. And, evidence suggests that the more you exercise, the healthier your veins will be as well. Basically, exercise gets your blood pumping, so it flows up your vein faster. That creates “shear stress” on your vein wall. Which causes vein wall cells to secrete nitric oxide. This is a chemical that preserves your vein wall health. So, for the most part, exercise is key to improving your vein health.

In certain cases, however, exercises may cause vein problems. Especially if you already have varicose veins. Want to get your veins healthy the right way? Read on for our ‘dos’ and don’ts’ of exercising with varicose veins. Please note that we recognize many readers will currently be avoiding the gym, so we’ve included recommendations for great, at-home exercise options.

The Best Exercises for Varicose Vein Sufferers

First things first: if you have vein disease, talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. (If you’re planning to start a new routine right now, we can help get you cleared in office or with a Telemedicine appointment on the secure Doxy platform.) Once you’re cleared for activity, our Houston area vein specialists recommend starting with low-impact workouts like walking, bicycling or swimming.

Why are these great choices? First of all, you can try any of these activities while following social distancing guidelines. Plus, we like vein disease sufferers to use their legs. When you do, you strengthen those muscles, making them contract harder  and helping push blood out of your legs and back up to your heart.

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

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

Varicose Vein Warnings for Cyclists

While bicycling is a good vein health exercise, be careful about extended cycling routines. Serious bicyclists are more vulnerable to a kind of varicose vein known as a perforator vein. Perforator veins take blood through your muscles to your deep veins, where it goes back up to your heart. Your legs have about 150 perforator veins, and their valves come under pressure when you bike. Why?biking exercise for varicose veins

Serious cycling puts lots of pressure on your calf muscles. It starts when you push pedals. Then, it causes huge pressure in your leg, which should cause your blood to push back to your heart. That’s why vein specialists often recommend bike riding as a good exercise for varicose veins.

Unfortunately, in some cases that pressure is too much for your valves, causing them to fail. While we don’t know exactly why this happens, studies suggest it could be a result of hunched postures or other contributing factors.

Want to prevent cycling complications? Just use caution when you bike ride. Try to practice good posture, and don’t push yourself too hard, especially if you already have varicose veins. After all, studies still suggest that your potential vein benefits outweigh the chance of popping a valve. So just proceed with caution and follow your doctor’s advice.

What Workouts Should I Avoid if I have Varicose Veins?

When you have varicose veins, some workouts might actually worsen your condition. We tell our patients to avoid exercises like lifting weights, squatting, or even some yoga poses. So now’s not the time for a new, at-home yoga routine. Without the guidance of an instructor, it will be hard to make vein-safe modifications.

Here’s why: Anything that increases pressure on your abdomen and lower body is not recommended, since it can reduce or stop the amount of blood flowing from your legs back to your heart. That, in turn, may allow blood to pool in your legs, causing your veins to stretch out and, possibly, fail.

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

When Should I Treat my Varicose Veins?

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

Sources: 220 Triathlon, Mayo Clinic, Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Fight All-Day Sitting Problems with 1 Easy Tip

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

Side Effects of Sitting all-day sitting hurts your veins

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

Shorter Life

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

Blood Clots

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

Varicose Veins

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

Reversing Effects of All-Day Sitting

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

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

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

 

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, Cancer.Org

 

Three Easy Ways to Improve 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.

And here’s a fun, pandemic friendly exercise tip for boosting circulation: try jumping on your trampoline! Yup, that’s right: bouncing isn’t just for kids. In fact, purchasing a mini-trampoline for indoor exercise is a very grown-up way to boost your vein health. That’s because, jumping (also called rebounding) on the trampoline can help reduce the pooling blood associated with varicose veins. It can also boost your circulation, and help you build stronger, healthier veins. Wondering how long you have to jump around? Here’s the good news : according to one rebounding study, you just need five minutes, three times a day, to boost your circulation.

Now, 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, Bel Marra Health

The Best Exercises for Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins Exercise

Varicose veins are veins that become enlarged or stretched out due to blood that pools in the legs. In addition to making your veins bulge, they can cause the following symptoms:

  • Tired, Achy Legs
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Nighttime Leg Cramps
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Ulcers or Sores

Since varicose veins are primarily caused by inactivity in the legs over a long period of time, getting out there and doing some exercises can help prevent and alleviate the symptoms associated with varicose veins.

How Does Exercise Help Prevent Varicose Veins?

While there’s no way to completely prevent varicose veins, regular exercise can help reduce the chances that you’ll get them. Simply changing your sitting or standing position regularly can improve your blood circulation, which helps reduce the amount of blood swelling the veins in your legs.

Exercise can increase your body’s ability to pump blood up the leg back toward the heart. It also helps keep your weight down, which further decreases your chances of getting varicose veins. Walking is a good choice, as are low-impact activities, such as swimming and biking.

What Exercises Prevent Varicose Veins?

If you already have varicose veins, exercise can keep them from getting worse and also help alleviate pain and discomfort. Generally, low-impact exercises are best, and include the following:

Walking or Running biking exercise for varicose veins

Walking just 30 minutes a day for five days a week can yield good benefits. If you run, try to find a grassy surface or synthetic track to minimize the stress on your joints.

Leg Lifts

Sit or lie on your back while sticking your feet straight out. Lift one leg at a time up, holding it in the air. Slowly lower it down and repeat with the other leg.

Bicycling or Bicycle Legs

Riding a bike or stationary bike is also helpful. If you don’t have access to any kind of bike, you can try this bicycle legs exercise. While lying on your back, put your legs in the air, bending them at the knee. Pedal them slowly as if you are bicycling. Try both legs at once, or alternate one at a time.

Lunges

Stand with your legs apart. Step forward slowly, bending your knee and making sure to keep your knee directly above your ankle. Hold it, then slowly straighten your leg and step back to your original position. Repeat with the other leg. While standing with your legs straight, rise up on your tiptoes and then lower back down. Repeat.

Rocking Your Feet

While you’re sitting or standing, rock your feet back and forth from heel to toe. This can be done at any time and is also helpful if health conditions prevent you from trying other forms of exercise.

Other Vein Health Exercises to Consider

When you suffer from chronic vein disease, you are vulnerable to venous leg ulcers: hard-to-heal sores that develop on your legs due to a combination of damaged capillaries and lymphatic ducts, and lack of oxygen in your lower legs. Once they develop, ulcers are hard to heal because, once again, of the shortage of oxygen reaching your lower limbs.

Fortunately, managing your vein disease with doctor-approved exercise can help protect you from developing ulcers. And, if ulcers have already formed, new evidence suggests that certain exercises may speed up your healing process!

Calf Raises and Venous Leg Ulcers calf raise exercise for ulcers

According to Dr. Laura Bolton, a member of the Wounds advisory board, evidence suggests that structured exercise training (SET) can help speed up the healing process for both venous leg wounds and diabetic foot ulcers. Chief among those exercises included in the SET program? Calf raises, thanks to their ability to get the heart pumping and improve circulation to the lower extremities. var

In her study, 77% of patients with venous leg ulcers had completely healed after a 12-week progressive exercise program; only 53% of non-exercisers enjoyed the same result. When it came to diabetic foot wounds, individuals who exercised for just 30 of the 96-day trial window saw a dramatic result in the size of their ulcers.

In revealing her findings, Bolton said: “This suggests that the more patients engage in calf muscle exercise, the more and earlier they improve their chronic VLU or DFU healing…[This could lead to saving] limbs and lives of patients. ”

Calf-Raise Routine for Improved Circulation

While no vein disease patient should engage in a new exercise routine without a doctor’s supervision, it is a good idea to discuss your physical activity once you’ve been diagnosed with vein health issues. Ask your doctor if it is safe to try this calf-raise routine, and you may just enjoy preventative or healing health benefits!

Standing Calf Raises

Position yourself on a staircase, with your hands resting against a wall or a sturdy object for balance and your heels hanging off the back edge of the stair. Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes. Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles. That’s one rep; aim for three sets of 10-15 reps each. Please note that you may have to build up to that level of performance.

Seek Varicose Vein Treatment

Exercise can be helpful when dealing with varicose veins, but you may also need treatment to achieve better results. Texas Endovascular offers minimally invasive, in-office procedures that don’t require general anesthesia or sedation. Several different treatment options are available for varicose veins, and each requires little or no recovery time. In fact, most patients are able to return to work the same day. We’ll choose the procedure that will yield the best results in your particular case, improving your comfort level as well as appearance.

Contact Texas Endovascular at (713) 575-3686 today for more information about the best exercises and treatments for varicose veins and to schedule an appointment!

 

Sources: Azura Vascular Care

Should I Take Fish Oil Supplements?

Are you taking fish oil? It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acid, and many doctors suggest taking approximately 1 gram per day. We often talk about fatty acids like miracle supplements, improving your heart health among other benefits. But, as it turns out, fish oil might not be so beneficial. This is what we know right now.

Fish Oil

Fish Oil Recommendations

Currently, physicians suggest that omega-3 supplements help prevent heart disease. Specifically, they should decrease the risk strokes or coronary heart disease.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem. Current studies show that fish oil may not be so effective. That’s why, today, we’ll look closely at all the evidence. First, however, let’s define a few terms.

  • Coronary artery disease narrows your arteries with built up plaque.
  • Symptoms of coronary heart disease include chest discomfort, tightness or pain. You may also experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea or even sudden death.
  • Strokes occur when a blood vessel running to your brain is blocked. Symptoms can include weakness, and drooping of one side of your face or mouth. Your speech may slur, and you can lose strength and co-ordination.

We do know that inflammation plays a role in heart disease. What isn’t so clear? Whether fish oil can truly make a difference in your risk.

Does Taking Fish Oil Help Prevent Heart Attacks?

To give a balanced answer to this question, we had to dig deep. So we looked at 10 studies of almost 78,000 high-risk patients who took omega-3 supplements for about 4 years. The purpose? To see if Omega-3 supplements helped decrease their risk of both fatal and non-fatal heart attacks. We also explored risk for other catastrophic events such as strokes, and the need for heart surgery related to heart disease.

The results of the ten studies, unfortunately, weren’t great. The patients showed no significant reduction in fatal or nonfatal heart attacks. Or any other heart disease related events, for that matter. Even further, after looking at the included patients with diabetes and high cholesterol; those taking cholesterol lower medication (statin); and people who already had heart disease; fish oil didn’t improve their health at all.

Now, why are we telling you all this? We want to get to the overall take-home point: based on the best current data, there is no evidence that taking fish oil supplements at the currently recommended dose (1 g/d) will decrease your risk of heart attack, death from a heart attack, or other significant events caused by heart disease.

Sadly, this study isn’t our only evidence for that conclusion. The US Agency for Healthcare Research, and Quality reported similar results in 2016: people taking omega-3 supplements showed no signs of reduced heart health risks.

The Future of Fish Oil Supplements

Still, you don’t need to toss out your fish oil supplements just yet. We need further studies to determine whether high doses of fish oil, combinations of fish oil and other treatments such as diet and lifestyle interventions, or statin use can decrease the risk of heart disease. Current studies looking at whether 3-4 grams of fish oil per day may provide benefit are in progress.

In the meantime, however, protecting your vein health and improving your circulation can minimize your risk for certain circulatory conditions, including Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) To learn more about your current health situation, and to help lower your risk for heart disease, come in for a diagnostic vein scan. We can identify your current risk factors and formulate a treatment protocol that will lower your risk for dangerous complications.

Sources: National Library of Medicine, JAMA Cardiology

What are Minimally Invasive Vein Treatments?

The doctors in our practice offer minimally invasive vein treatments. But, so often, we get asked about our medical specialty: what is an interventional radiologist? At the most basic level, it means we treat medical conditions such as spider veins  and peripheral arterial disease with minimally invasive techniques.

Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to perform more invasive procedures. After all, 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.

So, what’s the difference between our specialty and those of other doctors? Our goal as interventional radiologists is to offer less expensive, less invasive alternatives 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.

What is a minimally invasive vein treatment?

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:

  • Varicose vein ablation: this out-patient procedure sends heat to malfunctioning veins. The high temperature permanently closes up the problem vein, eliminating its appearance on your skin and preventing vein disease progression.
  • Uterine fibroid embolization, a non-surgical procedure that effectively kills these tumors without an overnight hospital stay!
  • Sclerotherapy: a great option for varicose veins that don’t look great, but aren’t showing signs that you’ve got serious vein disease. Essentially, this is a great cosmetic option.
  • Phlembectomy … this is a surgical procedure, but it’s still minimally invasive. Basically, when your bulging veins are located right under your skin, we can use local anesthetic, then make several tiny incisions in your leg. Through those incisions, we remove your bulging vein and, because the slits were so small, you won’t need stitches and any scarring will be minimal. Plus, six months after your procedure, any marks should disappear entirely!

There are so many more ways we can address your vein health challenges without invasive surgery.  But we want you to understand why that’s such a big deal for your overall health. So please keep reading to find out why you should explore minimally invasive vein treatments.

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.

Sources: Radiology Info

Try This Vein Health Diet Now

Do you need to work on your vein health diet? We know that stress eating is a real problem, especially in this pandemic-driven summer, but it’s not too late to star a diet that will protect your veins–and the rest of you!

And here’s the best part: it’s not so hard. In fact, with just a few careful food decisions, you can keep your veins performing optimally as we ride out the rest of this crazy summer! First step: let’s limit those salty snack.

Sodium Intake in your Vein Health Dietsodium hurts vein health

Salty foods make your body hold onto fluid. Excess fluid puts pressure on your veins. By limiting your sodium intake, you can help your body flush out excess fluids and give your veins a bit of a break.

Some of the worst offenders to avoid? Steer clear of canned foods, deli meats, bacon, packaged meats like carne asada, pizza, soy sauce, olives, pickles, condiments, and other highly processed foods.

Fried Food

Fried treats like our favorite bucket of KFC are delicious, but also a problem. Not only are they high in sodium (see above) they also have high fat contents. Combine that with little to no fiber content, and those french fries can trigger fatty build-ups in your arteries. This may pave the way for Peripheral Arterial Disease. But, more immediately, they can also trigger constipation. Now, this may not seem like a vein heath problem, but here’s the deal: when you’re constipated, you have to strain in the bathroom. And that puts a strain on the veins in your rectum, as well as others in your lower body.  So limit fried treats to keep your blood (and everything else) flowing smoothly through your body. And stay away from dairy, red meat and starchy foods or white breads. These, too can all be constipating, contributing to strain-related varicose veins. 

Skip the Booze

We’ve already talked about the danger of retaining water. Which is why you should avoid sodium. But now let’s talk about flushing water out of your body too quickly. When you eat or drink something with diuretic properties (like alcohol) it makes you pee more often. And this can contribute to dehydration, which can impact blood flow, forcing your body to work harder at circulation. This, in turn, ups the pressure on your veins, potentially causing or worsening existing varicose veins. So, now that you now some foods to avoid, let’s get done with the bad news and focus on the good: food that help support your vein health!

Eat the Rainbow and Drink Up that Water

Colorful fruits like these berries can help support vein health at the holidays and all year round!

Whatever else you put in your body this holiday season, work to sneak in those colorful fruits and veggies–the brighter, the better! Not only do they contain plenty of antioxidants that will help stimulate blood flow, they also have lots of fiber, which will help you feel fuller, eat less and avoid weight gain (another factor that can contribute to vein health issues.)

Just as sodium makes your body hold on to fluid, drinking lots of water will help flush liquids out of your system. And, once again, it will make you feel more full, which means you’ll eat less of what’s going to harm your health.

Sources: San Diego Vein Institute

 

5 Ways to Prevent Spider Veins

So many things contribute to your risk of developing spider veins: your age, your family history and your weight can all play a role. So, while it may not be possible to prevent spider veins from ever forming, there are certainly things you can do to delay the process, or to prevent existing veins from worsening. leg exercise

Now, with that being said, here are our top hacks for preventing the type of vein damage which can lead to spider veins on your legs.

Preventing Vein Damage and Varicose Veins

As we mentioned, sometimes vein disease will develop no matter what you do. It’s simply part of your genetic code. And, if you have a family history of vein disease, you should certainly come in for a diagnostic vein scan to assess your risk. But, other times, you can help support vein damage and prevent or delay the appearance of those spider veins.

  1. Protect your skin from the sun

    We all know that sunscreen can protect you from burns, sun spots and wrinkles. But did you know that it’s also crucial for your vein health? As it turns out, sun damage, especially on your legs, may contribute to spider vein development. So lather up to say goodbye to those unsightly, bulging leg veins.

  2. Don’t stand or sit for extended periods

    Spending a long time in any one position—whether it’s up or down—can make your spider veins worse. Why? When you stop moving, blood can start to pool in the bottom of your legs. If your job requires you to sit a lot, try taking frequent walking breaks or do some stationary leg exercises under your desk. If you have to stand up on the job, sneak in sitting breaks throughout the day, ideally elevating your feet during that downtime.

  3. Wear compression socks or hose

    Compressions stockings can help your valves stay in the proper position, improving your circulation and reducing discomfort. We offer several different sizes and styles of compression socks in our Houston vein clinic, so you can pick the pair that suits your mood.

  4. Make overall health your priority

    By eating a balanced diet, avoiding excessive alcohol and staying well hydrated, you’re already on the right path towards protecting your vein health. And don’t feel like you have t do everything all at once: even a small change, like adding more fruits and veggies to your diet, can give you an extra boost of fiber and potassium—both of which help support healthy veins!

  5. Get sweaty on the regular

    Exercising is crucial in preventing the progression of varicose veins because it helps protect and improve your circulation. Don’t worry—you don’t need to start training for a marathon to enjoy the benefits of exercise. If you’re new to fitness, start with walking: it gets you active without putting too much pressure on your body. Bonus: it costs you nothing, you don’t need any equipment, and you can make it into a social opportunity! If walking isn’t your speed, give yoga a chance. Not only will it help your circulation, it can also tone and strengthen the leg muscles that support your most vulnerable veins!

Varicose veins can be unsightly and painful, so if you have one or more risk factors, taking preventative steps like these are always a good idea. It’s also smart to get regular vein health check-ups: the sooner you catch a potential problem, the sooner you can begin treatment and avoid further complications!

Sources: verywellhealth.com, viavascular.com, American Academy of Dermatology

The Power of Everyday Stretching and PAD

There’s a brand new way to address PAD: stretching! Remember when you thought cardiovascular exercise like walking was the only way to help your Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)? Well, a new study from the University of Milan is turning that idea on its head. Researchers revealed that 12 weeks of passive stretching can also improve your blood flow and support your vascular health. This could drastically alter exercise recommendations for PAD patients.

PAD is a painful condition triggered by narrow, hardened arteries. When you feel PAD pain in your legs, it’s because reduced blood flow to your legs means they don’t receive enough oxygen to support your movement.

Typically, vein specialists recommend a walking program to help boost blood flow to your legs. Even though the walking will hurt at first, over time, most PAD patients see symptom improvement. Especially when they walk in combination with other treatment protocols.

For some, however, that initial pain is overwhelming. Which is why this new Italian research is very ing exciting.

Dynamic, Active and Passive Stretching  Passive stretching can improve blood flow and PAD

Before turning to the research findings, a word on stretching. There are three types: dynamic stretching, which involves loosening your body while you’re on the move. Think gentle walking lunges, arm twists and leg swings. Dynamic stretching is a great warm up for active workouts like jogs and runs.

Next comes active stretching, where you get into a stretched position, such as lifting your leg in the air in front of you. And then you hold that position without the assistance of your hands, or anything else. Associated with workouts like yoga flows, these stretches increase your flexibility and build muscle. But they’re not the type of stretch we’re talking about today.

The stretching format included in our study is passive stretching. It involves assuming a stretch position and holding your body in that pose with the help of your hands or another external force, like a yoga strap. Now, apparently, we know that passive stretching can improve your blood flow. Let’s take a closer look.

Blood Flow, Stretching and PAD Study

To start, researchers gathered 39 healthy men and women, splitting then them into two groups. One group engaged in leg stretches five times a week for 12 weeks. The second group didn’t stretch.

At the end of the study period, the stretching group showed evidence improved vascular health. heart attack and stroke. The study authors wrote: “Blood pressure was decreased, central and peripheral arterial stiffness was reduced, and vascular function was increased after 12 weeks of passive stretching training.”

In other words, regular passive stretching minimized factors that contribute to PAD. All of which suggests that, in addition to walking and other forms of cardio, you may want to discuss a stretching program with your vein specialist.

Now, it’s important to note that stretching doesn’t produce the same level of blood flow improvement as cardiovascular exercise. But for those who can’t walk, or who are able to combine stretching and walking programs, the findings show a lot of promise.

Preventing and Treating PAD

As we noted earlier, stiff, hard arteries contribute to PAD symptoms. So, keeping your arteries healthy can help prevent this condition. But how can you protect your arterial health?

You need to maintain their flexibility, since they must expand and contract in order to allow for proper blood flow. And, to keep your arteries flexible, you should maintain a healthy weight, engage in cardio exercise and address high blood pressure if that’s a personal concern.

If, however, you’ve already developed plaque and atherosclerosis, it’s time to explore PAD treatment. At our Houston area arterial care clinics, we treat PAD with minimally invasive procedures such as Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy. In most cases, we’re able to resolve your symptoms without large incisions or open surgery, so we’re typically able to send you home the same day as your procedure.

But what does that procedure look like? One of our expert interventional radiologists inserts a small IV and wire through your groin. Once we access your blood vessel, we use imaging to guide the wire into position past your affected artery. From here, we’ll determine the best treatment option based on your disease progression. We’ll either use a balloon to widen your vessel (angioplasty) or carefully place a stent that will hold the vessel open permanently to increase blood flow.

If you have PAD symptoms such as pain when you walk, numb or cold feet, reduced leg hair or toenail growth, or wounds that just won’t heal, it’s time to come in for a visit. We’ll get you scheduled for an Ankle-Brachial Index test that will determine the extent of your PAD progression.

 

Sources: MIT.edu, The Journal of Physiology

Request an AppointmentRequest an Appointment

Texas Endovascular is OPEN for business!

Our offices have stringent safety protocols in place to keep you safe and provide the care you need.  We are accepting appointments now. Do not delay necessary medical care and follow-up. Call our office today at 713-575-3686  to schedule your appointment with Dr. Fox, Dr. Hardee, or Dr. Valenson.

website logo