Category: Health Lifestyle

Move it Monday: 5 Ways to Boost Blood Flow and Stay Active Indoors

Did you know that getting exercise can boost blood flow? It’s true, which is why staying active is one easy way to prevent varicose veins from developing on your legs. And here’s why: spider veins start to form when blood pools in your veins, making them bulge and show through your skin. So, if pooling blood can leave you with bulging veins, then blood that flows well can help prevent this problem. And here’s the good news: staying active with exercise dilates your blood vessels, which in turn creates a demand for increased blood flow.

Of course, it’s not always possible to exercise in a gym, or under the supervision of a doctor or trainer. Heck, in the hot Houston summers, even a simple walk outdoors isn’t so appealing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work activity into your daily or weekly routine. With that goal in mind, here are 5 simple ways you can work physical activity into your day without ever leaving the house. And remember, as always, check with your doctor before starting any new fitness routine!

5 Ways to Work up a Sweat in Your House

1. Catch up on laundry. Tackling those building piles of laundry is a great way to burn calories—and stress. Bonus activity points if your machine is on your top floor, and you keep working those stairs to swap loads.

2. Sweep and mop the kitchen (or your whole house, if you’re really feeling ambitious). Make the whole thing more fun (and burn bonus calories) by turning up the music and working some dance steps into your floor sweeping.

3. Cook up a storm. Did you know that standing at your stove and cooking burns around 180 calories an hour? And you can increase that burn by chopping your own veggies—heck, you may even score some bicep work!

4. Just dance. Were you inspired by that musical sweeping session? Why not take it up a notch, and just dance through as many songs as you can handle. It doesn’t matter how fast you go—it’s all about moving and having fun.

5. Use your stairs. This is another tip you’ve already started tackling with our laundry suggestion. If you’re living in a home with a staircase in the house, you have your own stair master right in the house! Walk up and down at your own pace for as long as you feel safe and comfortable.

4 More Reasons to Boost Blood Flow

Like we said, when you boost your blood flow, you’ll lower your risk for spider veins. (You may even keep existing vein damage from getting worse.) Aside from exercise, these helpful lifestyle tips can help boost blood flow. But, did you know that improving circulation does more than simply protect your vein health?

Well, it’s true! When your circulation works well, more blood reaches your muscles. That can improve your athletic performance, making it easier to stay active at home or on the go. Plus, for men, poor blood flow can be linked to erectile dysfunction. So staying on top of your circulatory health can help protect male fertility.

All of that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? We agree. With that in mind, we invite you to give our at-home exercise tips a try. And, if poor blood flow seems to be a problem, schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston area vein specialists!

 

Sources: HealthiNation.com, klkntv.com

Here’s What Smoking Does to Arteries

Ever wonder what smoking does to arteries? Even though May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, our Houston vein specialists celebrate that one every day. Why? The day is meant to raise awareness of the terrible impact tobacco has on your health. Now, we likely all know that smoking impacts your lungs and raises your risk for many types of cancer. But did you also know that smoking harms your blood health? That is, unfortunately, the case, and it does so by limiting blood flow through your arteries and veins in two main ways.

Smoking Limits Blood Flow

Nicotine, the addictive chemical contained in traditional and e-cigarettes, causes your blood vessels to narrow. This narrowing limits the amount of blood vessels can carry and, over time, it causes them to become more rigid, losing flexibility. This stiffening of the vessels makes your heart work harder, in turn raising your blood pressure.

Tobacco use of any kind is also a strong risk factor for developing peripheral arterial disease (PAD). While plaque typically develops because of an unhealthy diet, the chemicals in cigarette smoke weaken the inner cell layer of our blood vessels, making it easier for plaque to stick to them.

Initial PAD Warning Signs

When plaque is building up to dangerous levels, you will likely first experience leg symptoms. They may start to hurt for no apparent reason, especially while you’re walking. Why? As you walk, your body needs increased blood flow; if limitations in your arteries slow or stop that blood flow, you will experience pain. While it can be tempting to brush off this kind of pain as typical exercise related cramps, that’s a bad idea, especially if you smoke. Any kind of leg pain is a symptom worth discussing with your doctor.

Another sign of developing PAD? Feeling a heaviness in your chest while you walk up the stairs. Of course, plenty of people feel winded when climbing multiple flights of stairs, but if you start to have problems after just a few steps, you should consider this a troubling warning sign.

If you have PAD, you may also experience other symptoms. Your wounds may heal slowly, because injuries need oxygen to heal, but narrowed or blocked arteries make it hard for healing oxygen to reach those wounds.

A change in toe color could also occur, since your blood is having a tough time reaching those lower extremities. As a result, they may start to lose some color, taking on a blue-ish tinge.

Finally, you may notice a loss of leg hair: Your hair follicles are nourished by blood flow; they die without a proper supply, causing your hair to fall out. Because of this, loss of hair (especially below the knees) is an easy way to spot PAD.

PAD: What Smoking Does to Arteries

Many physicians consider smoking to be the biggest PAD risk factor. Why is that? Chemicals in tobacco interfere with how blood cells function. That can affect your heart as well. And one of the first ways it does so? Making it easier for plaque to build up in your arteries. As such, about 90% of PAD patients smoked in their past.

The picture gets worse when you look at the general population. Smokers risk of developing or worsening their case of PAD is about four times higher than that of non-smokers. But don’t panic yet: by quitting smoking, you can greatly reduce your risk of PAD, heart attack, stroke and/or aneurysm (burst blood clot). Snubbing out this bad habit will also have positive effects in a number of different ways in regards to your overall health, so there is no reason not to quit!

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about any of the warning signs we’ve discussed, and start developing a plan to quit. Not ready to get into the doctor’s office? Check out the resources at Smokefree.gov, and remember e-cigarettes and cigarette alternatives like Juul are equally dangerous, thanks to the nicotine they all contain!

Need more help managing the effects of smoking on your arteries? We’re here to help. Just reach out to our specialists for an appointment. With proper care, we can help reverse the effects of what smoking does to arteries in your body.

Sources: Cleveland Clinic

The Link Between Infertility and Varicose Veins

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

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

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

How do Varicoceles Affect Fertility? varicocele and male infertility consult

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

Now, remember: enlarged veins aren’t just a cosmetic problem. As blood build up in your veins, internal pressure and temperature can also increase. And that’s where your fertility could be threatened: extra pressure and heat in this sensitive part of your body could damage your testicles. That could lead to decreased sperm production, and poor sperm quality, both of which could impact male fertility.

Varicoceles Symptoms

With this type of varicose vein, you may experience unwanted symptoms other than challenges to your fertility. Your scrotum could get swollen or tender. The area may feel heavier than usual, or like it’s dragging from your body. Also, your veins may become dilated or spaghetti like. And the side of your scrotum with varicocele may appear smaller, due to changes in your blood flow.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek a diagnosis. Your healthcare provider can likely diagnose this vein problem with a physical testicular exam. Then, if varicose veins in your scrotum are the problem, you’ll get treatment and lifestyle recommendations. And those should include ways you can stay active while dealing with varicocele. (Or any type of vein disease!)

Staying Active With Varicose Veins

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

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

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

Other Concerns with Veins in the Penis

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

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

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

Treating Male Varicose Veins

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

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

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

Sources: Society of Interventional Radiology

These Jobs Can Increase Your Risk for Vein Disease

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

Professions that Increase your Varicose Vein Risk Spider veins

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

Teachers

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

Wait staff

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

Flight attendants 

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

Office Staff

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

Lowering On-the-Job Vein Health Risks

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

·         Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

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

·         When you do sit, avoid crossing your legs

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

·         Get regular cardiovascular exercise (it doesn’t need to be high-impact. Even walking will make a major difference!) And that’s not all! Walking is also a great way to protect your arteries. In fact, a recent study in JAMA revealed that high-intensity walking can make it easier to manage PAD symptoms like pain with walking, also called claudication. (Even if your walking program hurts when you start, sticking with it can help you walk for longer before you experience pain!)

 

What to Watch for if Your Varicose Vein Risk is Elevated

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

·         Swollen lumpy veins

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

·         Leg pain or legs that feel heavy

 

Of course, you don’t have to see symptoms of varicose veins in order to visit our Houston area vein clinics. If you know your risk for vein disease is already elevated, proactive vein care could go a long way towards preventing negative outcomes! So reach out to our team of specialists, and request an appointment today. From a diagnostic ultrasound to thorough physical exams and treatment recommendations, we have the tools to keep your job from damaging your vein health!

 

 

This is Why a Summer Birthday Means More than A July Birth Flower

If you’re born in spring or summer, you may know your April or July birth flower. But did you that the time of year during which you were born can actually determine the way you die?

Yes, that’s scary…but true! And, more specifically, your birth month is directly linked to your odds of dying from heart disease! Want to know the worst birth months for heart health? Just keep reading!

Spring and Summer: The Seasons of Heart Disease

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

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

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

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

These are the Warning Signs for Heart Disease

Whether you have an April or July birth flower, and regardless of your risk for cardiovascular disease, you should never ignore these tell-tale symptoms. Especially if they are sudden and unexplained:

1. Chest pain

2. Stomach pain

3. Sweating

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

5. Arm pain

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

7. Chronic exhaustion

Treatment Options for Symptom

Luckily for all our July birth flowers out there, we can treat many of these early warning signs of heart disease. When it comes to PAD, our minimally invasive treatments, including angioplasty and atherectomy, can help return blood flow to your outer limbs. In turn, this should boost your overall circulation, and could even reduce your risk for progressive heart disease.

Got edema? We’ve got solutions. First, the FDA recently approved a new edema medication, known as Soaanz. It’s meant for patients who have heart failure and/or kidney disease. So, if you’re not there yet, you may prefer this easy lifestyle solution for leg swelling: eat more zucchini!

It’s simple, but effective for minor cases of edema. Because this veggies has water contents between 90 and 95%, it can help you stay hydrated. And, while you may think adding more water to your body will make your swelling worse, the opposite is true. Because, when you add extra hydration to your system, your body may relax its hold on other water sources. Which could help ease water retention and swelling.

Remember, on their own, any one of these symptoms should be a sign that it’s time to discuss your heart with a healthcare provider. But, in combination, consider these symptoms a potential emergency. Seek medical attention right away. And, if you’re noticing early warning signs of PAD or other symptoms of vein disease, schedule an immediate consultation with our team of Houston vein specialists!

 

 

Here’s One Smart Reason to Grab That Beer!

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

How Wine and Beer Help Your Heart

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

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

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

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

The Impact of Alcohol Avoidance

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

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

Exercise Therapy for PAD

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

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

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

 

Sources: British Medical Journal (BMJ)

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

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

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

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

Lifestyle Changes to Protect Against Varicose Veins

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

1.       Work your legs.

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

2.       Know your ‘don’ts.’

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

3.       Try compression stockings.

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

4.       Take a break during the day, too.

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

5.       Lose some weight.

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

6. See Your Houston Vein Specialists

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

Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Senior News

Why Paraffin Manicures and Vein Disease Don’t Mix

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

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

What happens during paraffin manicures?

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

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

Paraffin Wax and Varicose Veins: a Bad Combination

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

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

Sources: healthline.com

Learn the Hidden Danger of Spanx and Skinny Jeans

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

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

Danger of Spanx and Tight Clothing for Your Health

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

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

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

Tingling and Numbness

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

Varicose Veins or Blood Clots

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

Dangers of DVT

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

Stay Safe and Smooth with Shapewear

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

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

Sources:: American Heart Association

Here’s How to Protect Your Veins While Working From Home

If you’re new to the work-from-home game, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, you need to protect know this: your vein health is at risk. Unlike office settings, when we’re home, most of us aren’t set up to work in positions that protect our veins from the challenges of poor posture and all-day sitting.

In little bursts, that’s not a big deal. But as the weeks stretch out, and we spend more time working at home, these little problems can become major ones. In fact, slumping and sitting all day can cause blood to pool in your legs. This stretches out your vessels, impacts circulation and leads to varicose veins and other symptoms of vein disease. Those additional risks include DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in the deep veins of your legs), plus other, also risky clots.

Want to avoid these complications? We can help! Just follow our top tips for safely working at home.

Preventing Blood Clots working from home raises blood clot risk

When working properly, your blood clots to protect you from excessive bleeding after a cut or injury. But, sometimes, your blood clots when it’s not supposed to, and that can pose a serious threat to your health. As we mentioned, sitting or even standing for too long can make your blood pool. And that can raise your risk for clotting.

Now, when they form on your surface veins, blood clots aren’t typically dangerous. Actually, when you have varicose veins, you probably already have blood clots. But you’ll also have a higher risk of developing clots in your deep veins, buried well below the surface of your legs.

These clots can cause pain and swelling, and may even break off and travel to your lungs, creating a pulmonary embolism. (A life threatening condition.) Also, blood clots may form in your brain, and that can be immediately life threating. So, if you weakness in your limbs, drooping facial features, or slurring words, seek immediate medical attention.

Of course, it’s crucial to stay aware of the warning signs of blood clots. But it’s also critical to prevent problems. So follow our important tips for protecting your veins while working from home.

5 Stay Healthy Hacks for Working from Home

Standing Desk

These tips will help prevent aches, pains and additional tolls on your vein health:

1. Optimize your computer screen height

Now that you’re working at home, it’s tempting to work in bed, or on your couch. But that can lead to poor posture and pressure on your veins! To protect yourself, set up your screen so that you can view it straight on, without having to look down, or twist your head left or right. Put your screen in front of you at a comfortable viewing height. Even if you’ve got to get a phone book to raise the height, it’s worth it. Why? Viewing your screen straight on will protect your posture and help you avoid back and neck pain.

2. Touch your chair backing

Your chair’s got a backing for a reason—to give you support. When you sit up too straight, or hunch forward over your desk, you’re putting pressure on your spine, either forcing it to work too hard or causing it to curve in unnatural shapes.

When you rest against your chair back, however, you support your spine’s natural curve. Plus, this position allows your chair to take on some of your body weight, which means there’s less pressure on your feet. And, with less pressure on your feet, your blood flows freely and you experience fewer vein health complications!

Finding it tough to sit back that far with comfort? No sweat! Simply extend the back of your chair by adding a cushion or towel to the chair. This will feel good on your back while ensuring you receive the benefits of proper seated posture.

3. Support your feet

When you’re sitting in that chair, your feet should be flat on the floor. And if they don’t reach? Well, you’ve got to help make sure they do, by placing books, blocks or even cushions beneath your feet.

Why is this step so crucial? Leaving your feet dangling is a major roadblock for your circulation. It puts excessive pressure on your thighs, interferes with your lower body blood flow, and raises your risk for blood clots—especially a potentially life-threatening DVT.

4. Minimize standing

Maybe you switched to a standing desk at your office. (If you did, check out our standing desk warnings here.) And maybe you want to try to do the same at home. But here’s the deal: while sitting all day is terrible for your health, standing all day isn’t much better.

Staying on your feet for hours at a time puts tons of pressure on your feet, raising your risk for varicose veins. It puts tons of pressure on your circulatory system, which could even impact the health of your arteries and heart.

So, while we applaud the desire to avoid all-day sitting and work more movement into your day, standing up isn’t the answer. Instead, follow our previous safe-sitting suggestions. And look to our final tip for ways to prevent all-day sitting disease.

5. Take Moving Breaks

Sitting or standing all day is a bad idea. When you’re at the office, it’s easy to move by building bathroom breaks and water cooler trips into your day. You can also opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or even walk over to a colleague’s desk instead of sending an email.

But at home? It’s a lot tougher to keep moving. So, to avoid the pitfalls of sedentary living, you’ll have to work a little bit harder. Set reminders for yourself to get up and walk around every 30 minutes. Circle your living room, climb the stairs…it doesn’t really matter, as long as you take some steps and get your blood pumping out of those legs and back to the heart. This should help protect your vein health during these safe-at-home moments.

If, however, you’re already noticing signs of a brewing vein problem, like dark or bulging veins, leg cramps, or changes in skin color? Don’t wait to seek treatment! Our vein specialists can help you right now, so make an immediate appointment with our office. Because, here’s the deal: vein problems are progressive. Delay treatment today, and you’ll face a bigger problem next month, next week or even tomorrow!

Sources: Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, AARP

Request an AppointmentRequest Appointment