Category: Health Lifestyle

Eat This: Zinc, Vitamin B, and Food for Vein Health

Did you know that your diet should include important nutrients and food for vein health? During this COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve been hearing a lot more about the importance of Zinc in your diet.  This is what we know: zinc is a trace element which your immune systems needs to function properly. In fact, zinc is considered a type 2 nutrient because it’s a necessary part of your body’s general metabolism (other type 2 nutrients include protein and magnesium.) So, if you have a zinc deficiency, you’ll be at a higher risk for infections, diseases and viruses like COVID-19.

But supporting immunity isn’t zinc’s only important job. In fact, this little element plays many roles in your body. And a little of it goes a long way: your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men.

It’s entirely possible to get your daily zinc dose from your diet (more on that shortly.) Otherwise, talk to your doctor about starting a zinc supplement.

Still waiting to be sold on zinc? Let’s take a closer look at two of its numerous function: supporting immunity and wound healing.

How Does Zinc Regulate Immunity?

Without zinc, our body can’t activate its T lymphocytes (T cells). And we need those T cells for two jobs: controlling and regulating our body’s immune response, and attacking cells that are infected or even cancerous.

What does that all mean for you? If you don’t get enough zinc, your immune system just won’t work the way it should. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals, “zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”

Now, those pathogens range from severe infections to conditions like a common cold. Which is why, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal, zinc supplementation could shorten your cold experience by as much as 40%. Plus, it could make your symptoms less severe while you’re still under the weather. It’s not so surprising, then, that zinc can also help your body heal leg ulcers, a common symptom of vein disease.

How Zinc Helps Heal Your Wounds

Before we explain why zinc can help heal your leg ulcers, let’s review why you might develop this kind of wound. When you have chronic vein problems, you may develop non-healing ulcers or open sores on your lower legs. Also called venous ulcers, they usually develop around your ankle, varying in size from very small to several inches in diameter.

What’s the connection between these two issues? Chronic vein disease causes a progressive inflammatory reaction in your body, and that damages your capillaries and lymphatic ducts. After that damage, fluid leaks into the tissues of your lower legs, causing swelling and depositing hemoglobin in your lower leg tissue.

But that’s not all—capillary damage also decreases your lower leg’s oxygen levels, which translates to poor wound healing and ulcers.

We treat venous ulcers with compression therapy and wound care, while also treating your underlying vein condition. And now we know that zinc could help speed up your healing. Why?

One of zinc’s jobs is to maintain your skin’s health. In fact, you may be more susceptible to leg ulcers if you have a zinc deficiency.  As such, some studies suggest that applying zinc to your wounds could help speed healing, but further research is required before this becomes our primary treatment protocol.

How Can I Add Zinc to my Diet Naturally?

Beans, animal proteins, nuts, fish and seafood are all good sources of zinc. You can also get zinc from whole grain cereals, and dairy products. Top choices for zinc include fortified cereals, Pacific raw oysters, canned baked beans, cooked green peas, yogurt, pecans, lean ground beef and roasted peanuts.

Luckily, you’ve got lots of tasty ways to get your recommended daily zinc intake from diet alone. If, however, you feel you may have a zinc insufficiency, you may consider supplementation. Zinc supplements come in capsule and tablet form.

Keep in mind, however, that too much zinc can also cause problems in your body. So talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet. And, if you’re dealing with a leg ulcer right now, don’t delay treatment—regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak, you must stick with your follow up ulcer appointments. Failure to do so could even result in amputation!

Other Nutrients and Food for Vein Health

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

Vitamin B

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

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

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

Vitamin C

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

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

Vitamin K

This nutrient for vein health can help you prevent blood clots! At the same time, deficiencies with this vitamin can lead to excessive bleeding, so it’s important to watch your intake carefully. This vitamin can also keep blood from pooling, which will reduce your risk for varicose veins. And, you need k2 vitamins to keep elastin from calcifying, which would further increase your varicose vein risk.

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

Vitamin D

Your veins and arteries need this nutrient to stay relaxed and keep blood flowing freely. If your Vitamin D levels dip too low, your risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) rises dramatically.

What to eat: oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified breakfast cereals.

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

 

 

 

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

Lower Blood Pressure with these 5 Foods

Are you looking to lower blood pressure? If so, that’s a great idea. Because 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 a new study,  your diet can make it harder to get your blood pressure back in a healthy zone, if you aren’t careful.

Gut Bacteria Impacts Pressure Levels

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 47% of American adults have high blood pressure. But only 24% of them have it under control. And part of that is because prescribed medications don’t work for everyone.

Recently, a study in Experimental Biology revealed that bacteria in your gut could make it harder to regulate your pressure levels. In fact, they found that one common bacteria interfered with a class of blood pressure medications known as ACE inhibitors. The reason? It seemed to break down the medication, allowing less active ingredients to enter your bloodstream.

Now, this was just an animal study, with research still in its early stages. But, for now, it seems like altering your gut bacterial health could help. Or at least reduce your resistance to medications. And there’s one group of foods that can help you do that: the ones that are packed with probiotics.

Probiotic Foods lower blood pressure with probiotics

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 regulate your pressure levels? 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. Some of the best food sources for probiotics include these 5 foods to lower your pressure:

  1. Yogurt
  2. Tempeh
  3. Sauerkraut
  4. Kimchi
  5. Kefir

Other Boosts to Consider

Not a fan of probiotics? No problem! You can also take control of your health by adding other staples of a vein-healthy diet. Some favorite choices to battle high blood pressure include whole grains, leafy greens, plant-based proteins and lean meats, fish and poultry.

When added to your diet, these choices will help maintain a healthy weight. And they can help control your blood pressure. So, in combination, they’re a great choice to protect your vein health. All that’s left to do is add in a few probiotics, and you should be in great shape. But why do these foods work well? Let’s explore that connection next.

The Connection Between Diet and Blood Pressure

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

And here’s what they found. Some of the adults consumed probiotics daily for eight weeks or more. After, they 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 foods 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.

Foods to Avoid with High Blood Pressure

While some foods can reduce pressure, others do the opposite. So, if you’re already worried about your levels,  steer clear of foods that might raise them. And the foods to avoid with high blood pressure come in seven main categories:

  1. Salty foods
  2. Sugary foods and drinks
  3. Red meats and saturated fats
  4. Alcohol
  5. Processed foods
  6. Condiments
  7. Excessive caffeine

A Word on Heart Attack Prevention and Daily Aspirin Use

Now many people want to lower blood pressure to prevent a heart attack. And they may also take daily aspirin to reduce their risk. But recently, The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) changed its guidelines about daily aspirin use. Now, they warn that taking daily aspirin if you’ve never had a stroke or heart attack could lead to internal bleeding. Also, they don’t recommend starting this routine if you’re over 60. Plus, if you already have PAD, a cardiac stent, or you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, you must speak to your doctor before beginning this regimen.

Are you worried that hypertension could increase your risk for PAD and vein disease? Do you need help getting your range back in the healthy level? And would you like to do so as naturally as possible? We’re here to help you understand your PAD risk while avoiding complications. So reach out to our team of Houston area vein specialists and schedule a consultation today!

 

Sources: Medical News Today

Can Lymphedema Exercises for Legs Help Me?

Are you wondering if there are lymphedema exercises for legs that will relieve swelling? We don’t blame you! After all, swollen legs aren’t just uncomfortable. They could be a sign of a serious condition called venous insufficiency. (Also called VI, this is a condition in which your veins fail to circulate blood properly, especially to your lower extremities). As a result, you may develop troubling symptoms. One common side effect of VI is edema (swelling) in your the lower legs. And when you experience edema for an extended period of time, you are more susceptible to venous ulcers, open wounds that develop on your legs as a result of increased vein pressure due to your malfunctioning venous valves.

While ulcers can be frightening, there are several ways in which we can treat these sores. First and foremost, it’s important to address the underlying cause of the problem–your venous insufficiency and edema.

To help control edema, we recommend that patients wear compression stockings; the pressure will help encourage pooling blood to flow out of your legs and back up to your heart, reducing the swelling you experience in your legs. Elevating your legs can help as well: if you put your feet up above the level of your heart, it will also encourage pooling blood to leave your legs.

But there’s two more ways we can control edema and VI, reducing your risk of venous ulcers: diet and exercise!

Dietary Changes to Prevent Swollen Legs

If you’ve noticed swelling in your legs, it’s a great time to start changing your diet! First and foremost, cut back on your salt intake. Too much sodium in your diet can lead to water retention, making your edema symptoms worsen. Keep in mind that lots of canned soups, snacks, cheeses and even pickles are high in sodium, so it’s not enough to just bypass the salt shaker.

Next up on the dietary schedule? Drink more water. While it may seem strange, increasing your fluid intake can actually help flush retained fluid from your body. So, if edema is a problem for you, grab an 8-ounce water glass and start sipping!

Not a fan of H20? While water is best, other liquids may help you fight fluid retention. Some people find benefits from sipping dandelion tea. But since this fluid can interact with your medications, you should never drink this brew without your doctor’s approval. A safer choice? Try drinking lemon water! This will add a bit of pep to your regular water. And, as an added bonus, the lemon may help flush toxins–and excess fluid–out of your body! Finally, cranberry juice can also be a helpful beverage. Packed with magnesium, potassium and calcium, cranberry juice may help maintain proper fluid balance in your body. (Plus, it could help prevent urinary tract infections!)

Now, other nutrients may also help avoid water retention, but if your edema is related to vein disease, you should discuss serious dietary changes with your vein specialist. And you should also take a look at your exercise routine!

Lymphedema Exercises for Legs to Prevent Ulcers

As long as your doctor has cleared you for physical activity, certain forms of lymphedema exercises for legs can help manage VI, edema and ulcers. Exercises that are particularly effective include:

Walk your way to a lower risk of vein disease!
  • Ankle flexions (point your toes forward, away from the body, then flex them, pulling the toes toward your shin). The exercise is even more effective if performed while standing, or with the addition of a resistance band will further enhance the effects.
  • Brisk walking intervals, scattered throughout the day, will strengthen your calf muscle, helping it contract and push blood out of your lower legs.
  • Treadmill walking, especially at an incline, if this is possible for you, will further strengthen your calf muscles. If you aren’t up to treadmill walking, you can get similar benefits from rocking in a rocking chair, pushing off the ground with your feet to rock.
  • If you already have lymphedema, swimming is an excellent choice. It works because you’re horizontal and in constant motion, without impact on your legs.
  • Riding a recumbent bike is also a good choice because you’ll keep your legs slightly elevated and in motion. But you’ll do so with little impact on your lower body.

Of course, the best way to prevent ulcers is to maintain ideal vein health. If you start to notice any signs of VI or edema, come in and schedule a diagnostic vein scan. That way, we can stay on top of your vein health before more serious problems set in.

 

Sources: thehealthsite.com, healthline.com 

The Dos and Don’ts of Varicose Vein Exercises

Let’s talk about varicose vein exercises. 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.

Running can also be a problem. Now, it may be ok to take a light jog on a grassy surface or on a trail. But pounding your legs on a treadmill or concrete surface puts lots of pressure on your feet and legs. Which is a big problem for varicose veins.

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

Varicose Vein Risk Factors: Can I Get Them from Lifting Weights?

If you’ve been worried about varicose vein risk factors, this read’s for you! Have you been hitting the gym, and you’re worried about getting varicose veins from lifting weights? If so, this is the read for you! After all, for most of us, working out is about looking and feeling better. So you’d want to know if your workout is hurting your vein health!

And worrying about weight lifting is actually legitimate. If you’ve ever done a squat with weights, you may have  noticed that your leg veins are sticking out a bit more. So, you may be concerned that the effect might be lasting, and the beginning of a permanent problem. And that’s why we’re telling you everything you need to know about lifting weights and varicose veins.   

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are visible through your skin because of their enlarged size or darker color. These veins change color or bulge due to a build-up of excess blood, and that blood builds up because of problems with your valves.

But let’s backtrack a bit and talk about blood flow. Your veins have one important job: to carry blood from your extremities back towards your heart. When they’re working properly, the valves in your veins help blood fight gravity by closing to keep that blood from flowing back down to your legs and feet.

But when those valves aren’t working properly (a condition known as venous reflux) the blood can travel back downwards, allowing for the pooling that causes those prominent varicose veins to show up.

What Causes Venous Reflex?

A major contributing factor is genetics—if your mom or dad had varicose veins, you are more likely to experience the same problem. But other factors can play a role in vein disease. And these include advanced age, pregnancy or menopause, blood clots and obesity.

Job related hazards, like extended sitting or standing, can also contribute to this issue. Even your diet plays a role, since some unhealthy foods can impact your circulation. Plus, constipation increases your risk for varicose veins, so foods that take a toll on digestion can hurt your vein health.

And that’s not all you need to worry about. Because, as it turns out, staying in one position for too long takes a toll on your veins, too. In fact, it can lead to the same kind of blood pooling we see in people with malfunctioning valves.

Sex Differences in Varicose Vein Risk Factors

Before we return to discussing weight lifting’s impact on your vein health, let’s discuss gender as a varicose vein risk factor. For several reasons, women are more likely than men to develop this symptom of vein disease. Why is that the case?

First, only women get pregnant. (For now, at least. Who knows what medical and scientific advances we’ll see in the future?) And that matters, because pregnancy is one of the largest varicose vein risk factors, as your growing fetus and increased blood volume put lots of pressure on the valves inside your veins.

Then, there are more recent concerns that increase gender-based risk. During the COVID lockdowns, women were disproportionately chosen as the ones to stay home with out-of-school kids. And this contributed to sedentary lifestyles along with weight gain, both of which are varicose vein risk factors.

Now, exercise could actually help minimize the effects of gender risks for varicose veins. But only if you do so wisely. Which brings us back to talk of weightlifting and varicose veins.

Varicose Vein Risk Factors: Does Exercise Cause or Worsen Varicose Veins?

Here’s the good news: it doesn’t! Your veins may appear more prominent while you’re lifting weights, but it’s unlikely to be a permanent issue. In fact, regular exercise can actually decrease your chances of getting varicose veins because it helps boost your circulation.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule: lifting very heavy weights. If you are an extreme weight lifter, you may put enough pressure on your muscles and veins to cause valve damage. But, this type of problem would take time to set it, and there are easy steps you can take to prevent exercise-related vein damage.

The first step is to use proper form when lifting heavy weights, and to work with a spotter for additional safety. It’s also important to incorporate rest days into your training schedule, and it may be worthwhile to wear compression socks during lifting sessions to help protect your veins and improve your blood flow.

Of course, if you already have varicose veins and the symptoms are causing you discomfort during workouts, you may need to discuss cutting back with your doctor. But the important thing to remember is this: working out won’t cause you to experience venous reflex; it can’t make you develop varicose veins. And as long as you discuss your training plans with your vein doctor, it may even help you manage existing issues, while lessening certain symptoms of varicose veins!

What does all that mean for you? Well, if weight lifting is part of your current or future exercise plans, don’t wait until your vein health takes a hit. Be proactive, and schedule a consultation with our Houston area vein specialists, so you can stay safe and train appropriately!

Sources: Shape Magazine

 

How to Improve Circulation and 6 Signs You Need to Do It

Sometimes, you just need some help to boost circulation. 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 to boost circulation 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

When your circulation is compromised, your metabolism may slow down. And that means you may gain weight, even if your diet and exercise routine remains the same.

Now you know some of the warning signs of poor circulation, let’s explore what causes those problems, and learn  how you can give your circulatory system a boost.

What Causes Poor Circulation? spider veins on legs

Many different issues can compromise your circulation. But certain conditions will almost certainly impact your blood flow. We’ll take a look at the three worst offenders.

  • Varicose veins

    These bulging veins usually develop when your internal valves malfunction.  That failure keeps blood from flowing up and out of your legs, towards your heart. It’s an obvious cause and symptom of poor circulation.

  • Diabetes

    As your blood sugar levels are high, you can develop clogs in your blood vessel. This, in turn, will impact your circulation.

  • Obesity

    Indirectly, carrying extra weight makes movement more challenging. And when movement is challenging, you become more sedentary, which can decrease your circulation. Extra pounds also put more pressure on your legs—and the veins inside them—increasing your risk of varicose veins.

So, now you’ve seen some of the issues that can make problems for your circulatory system, let’s figure out how to boost your circulation!

How to Improve 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.

And here’s a great (and relaxing) way to boost circulation: get a massage! With a medically-approved massage, gentle rubbing in areas where your blood pools could boost circulation. Thanks to moderate pressure, that blood may get moving, and that could improve circulation to the rest of your body.

Circulation Boosting Diet and Gear

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. Try adding green tea to your diet if you need to boost circulation. As few as two cups a day could relax your blood vessels. This could, in turn, widen them and help boost circulation and blood flow.

And, finally, if circulation problems are already seriously impacting your health, you may want to avoid tight clothing such as Spanx or skinny jeans. Additionally, you may want to begin 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 associated 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, University Herald, Bel Marra Health

Fight Effects of Sitting all Day with These Easy Tips

So many of us have to worry about the effects of sitting all day, 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 Dayall-day sitting hurts your veins

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

Shorter Life

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

Blood Clots

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

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

Varicose Veins

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

Reversing Effects of Sitting All Day

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 that monitored their activities for a minimum of 4 days a week.

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

Now, this study refers to moderate exercise levels. And, if you stick with moderate exercise, that 30 minutes a day is what you’ll need. Because, according to the World Health Organization, you need 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise each week to avoid the side effects of sitting. (Although this man from Wisconsin claims he can balance the effects of sitting all day with 10 pushups and a walk around the block. And his doctor says his labs actually agree with him!)

Don’t have the patience for lots of low-intensity workouts? Here’s some good news for all our HIIT lovers out there. If you engage in high-intensity exercise, you only need 75 to 100 minutes of exercise each week to fight the effects of all-day sitting! So get ready to sweat hard–as long as your doctor has cleared you for more intense exercise!

How Can Physical Activity Fight Sitting Side Effects?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

How to Get Better Circulation: 5 Easy Tips

Are you wondering how to get better 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 or more of the following therapies to improve your blood flow.

How to Get Better Circulation After COVID

With new research, we’ve learned that COVID-19 attacks your blood vessels. That’s why so many COVID patients develop blood clots. And why so many people who recover from the disease still face circulatory challenges.

But how does this happen? The virus seems to attack your vein’s endothelium. (That’s your blood vessel’s interior lining. If it’s damaged, they can’t function optimally.) Today, researchers think that endothelial damage explains why so many COVID patients get deadly blood clots.

Additionally, vein specialists are seeing patients develop varicose veins after a COVID infection. For now, we can’t confidently say that viral damage causes these veins to appear. What we can say is that COVID damages your body’s circulatory system in a variety of ways. So knowing how to improve circulation after you recover could protect you from further complications.

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.

How to Get Better Circulation: 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.)

Improve Circulation as you Eat the Rainbow Improve circulation with flavanoid rich foods such as beets

Following a vein-health diet is a great, natural way to boost your blood flow. And a key part of that diet is colorful fruits and veggies. Why does color matter? The rainbow hues mean lots of flavonoids, which are a group of helpful nutrients that also give color to plants. When you eat a flavonoid such as anthocyanin, (found in deep red, blue and purple foods such as blueberries), the nutrients can help protect your blood vessel’s lining by strengthening their walls and fighting inflammation.

Now, as a group, flavonoids have another important job to do for your circulation. They can increase nitric oxide levels in your blood, which relaxes (dilates) your blood vessels. Once dilated, it’s easier for blood to circulate through your vessels. In addition to the berries, look for brightly colored choices such as purple cabbage, black plums and red beets to score the maximum benefits.

And that’s not all. New studies show that upping your daily flavanoid intake decreases your risk of PAD hospitalizations. But you don’t have to go crazy on your intake: the benefits max out at a certain level. Rather, to get the best PAD complication boost, aim for between 750mg and 1000mg per day. (Lots of foods contain flavanoids, but not all are created equal. Unsweetened baking cocoa has 206 mg for every 100 grams. One cup of blueberries, in contrast, has about 400mg of flavanoids. And for the real homerun, try a cup of green tea, which contains up to 1000 mg of flavanoids. In other words, your goal for the day!)

Spice Things Up

Certain supplements, such as ginkgo biloba and cayenne pepper, are known to stimulate circulation. How does this work? Both supplements relax (or dilate) your blood vessels. Which, as we’ve reviewed before, makes it easier for blood to flow freely through your body.

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.

How does exercise improve circulation at the level of your veins? It helps your valves pump blood up and out of your legs, moving back to your heart. Plus, exercise can help your body form new blood vessels. This is important if you already have varicose veins, since the new vessels can help take pressure off ones that aren’t working optimally.

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: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, BBC Good Foods, The Sports Daily, Bel Marra Health

American Heart Month: Show Your Heart Some Love This V-Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Did you know that the month of love is also American Heart Month, a time devoted to raising awareness about heart disease prevention. Heart disease is a more prevalent problem than cancer in this country, affecting so many Americans. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in this country. (It kills one out of every three women in this country.)

But why are your Houston area vein specialists talking about heart problems? Shouldn’t we stick to varicose veins? Well, as it turns out, protecting your heart can also help protect your veins. Here’s what you need to know,

Heart Month Update: Some Vein Issues are Actually Heart Problems

Your circulatory system is a team that consists of arteries, veins and your heart. Because all three work together, when any one team member is suffering, the entire group may be affected.

Venous insufficiency

When you have VI, not enough blood reaches your organs and extremities. And when that condition sets in, blood can collect or “pool”, in your veins. This pooling can lead to a domino effect—arteries may lose their ability to efficiently carry blood away from your heart, and the already struggling veins won’t be able to bring it back! And when blood stays stuck in places it doesn’t belong, you may start to develop…

Varicose and spider veins

Those bulging veins, most often seen along your leg, are unsightly, but they can often be a sign of a much bigger issue. In addition to being uncomfortable or even painful, the elevated vein pressure inside of those varicose veins has been linked to right-sided heart failure. Scary, we know…but the story doesn’t stop there! Circulatory problems can also lead to an elevated risk of:

Blood clots

Blood clots can cause kill you, plain and simple. The body naturally forms blood clots when you get a cut or other form of injury, but when they form inside your veins or arteries, the resulting decrease in blood flow can cause a stroke or heart attack. When you develop a clot in the deep veins of your legs, (Deep Vein Thrombosis, a condition for which you are at risk if you have varicose veins), the clot may break free without your knowledge, traveling to your lungs (pulmonary embolism) where it becomes a potentially fatal condition.

So, if you want to show yourself some love this V-day, make some moves to protect your veins, heart and your entire circulatory system. Here are some important steps you can take to protect your heart health:

Heart Month (and Vein) Saving Lifestyle Changes

We know that some of these changes may be more difficult than others, but here’s the good news: it’s not an all or nothing game! Even shooting for one simple lifestyle change can help you make important health gains. And who knows? Once you start feeling better, you may be inspired to keep on making positive changes! Or to consider scheduling a diagnostic ultrasound with our team of Houston area vein and PAD specialists.

 

Check Out These 3 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? We’ll take a closer look in a moment. But first, we must explain the difference between spider and varicose veins.

Spider veins vs varicose veins: What’s the difference?

People use the terms spider veins and varicose veins interchangeably. But that’s a problem, since these similar concerns have important differences. (And they impact your ultimate treatment options!)

Here’s the story: both spider and varicose veins are enlarged because of pooling blood. They develop when something goes wrong in your body, causing your valves to fail and blood to pool. But here’s the difference. Varicose veins typically develop in larger veins that sit deeper within your legs. They won’t just change color, but they’ll likely bulge under your skin, possibly looking like they’re tangled or twisted. In contrast, spider veins usually impact your legs’ smaller, superficial veins (close to the skin’s surface.) And, rather than bulging, they simply change color, their darker shade becoming the reason they’re visible on your skin.

Also, spider veins usually don’t hurt. But varicose veins are often very painful. And, while minimally invasive vein treatments can work for both conditions, they’re really best suited for spider veins. Because varicose veins may need different interventions.

What is a minimally invasive vein treatment? minimally invasive vein treatments

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:

  • Spider vein ablation

    This out-patient procedure sends heat to your malfunctioning veins, using a small catheter that we insert to your vein. The high, controlled temperature permanently closes up the problem vein or veins. And it eliminates the appearance on your skin, while preventing vein disease progression.

  • Uterine fibroid embolization

    This is a, out-patient, in-hospital, non-surgical procedure that effectively kills these tumors without an overnight hospital stay! First, we gain access to your uterine artery through the radial artery in your wrist. (We can also begin with the femoral artery in your thigh.) Then, as with vein ablation, we insert a catheter to your artery, working towards the uterine artery and your fibroid. Finally, we insert embolic material to block blood flow to the tumor, causing it to shrink and, eventually, disappear.

  • Sclerotherapy:

    This is 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 treatment. With liquid sclerotherapy, we inject your veins with an FDA-approved solution. It’s designed to irritate the inside lumen of your spider veins. And that irritation causes spider veins to gradually collapse and shrink, so your body reabsorbs them. You’ll need between three or four 30-minute treatments, spaced at least three weeks apart. But if you have multiple varicose veins, you may require even more injections.

    We love this treatment option for a few reasons. You don’t feel any pain with the injections. It’s safe and effective. (While your veins may look worse right after treatment, you should notice fading and improvements between 4-6 weeks after your injections.)

    With sclerotherapy, most people can get right back to walking after treatment. (You’ll typically wait two days before getting cleared for strenuous activities.) But if your visible veins are large, painful or break down the overlying skin, sclerotherapy may not be your best choice. Instead, you may need to combine treatments with leaky valve repairs. Plus, you may want to remove your troubled veins with treatments like phlebectomy, highlighted below.

  • Phlebectomy

    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

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