Category: Health Lifestyle

6 Signs You Need to Boost Circulation (And How 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 Can I Boost 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 being compression therapy. This sounds scarier than it actually is. In fact, this form of therapy involves the regular wearing of compression stockings. These simple pieces of clothing (which now come in a variety of styles and colors) put a little pressure on your legs to help get blood out of the area and back up to your heart.  This can improve your circulation and limit many of the symptoms association with circulatory problems, like spider veins or heavy, achy legs.

 

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

 

Sources: SCNow.com, University Herald, Bel Marra Health

Fight All-Day Sitting Problems with These Easy Tips

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

Side Effects of Sitting all-day sitting hurts your veins

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

Shorter Life

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

Blood Clots

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

Varicose Veins

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

Reversing Effects of All-Day Sitting

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

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

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

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.

But 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

 

Are Standing Desks Good or Bad for Your Veins?

Have you thought about getting a standing desk for your home office? Did all your co-workers have them before? These days, so many nine-to-fivers are opting to switch out traditional work stations for Standing Deskstanding desks. (BTW, these are desks that can be raised or lowered. They give you the option of standing or sitting throughout the day.)

These standing desks became popular for a reason. So many people in this country struggle with their weight. And that’s partly because of their lack of activity.

That’s why many people thought standing desks were great. They could solve the problem of all-day sitting. But, unfortunately, standing desks bring individuals a whole new set of problems. Because, as it turns out, standing desks are linked  to increases in foot and back pain. They can also increase your risk of developing varicose veins. To better understand the risks of a standing desk, let’s explore the pros and cons of each desk option.

Why Sitting All Day is Dangerous

Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? That’s right, some health experts have said that it’s worse for your health to sit all day than to smoke a pack of cigarettes. Extended periods of sitting have been linked to an increased risk of both heart and kidney disease. Not surprisingly, sitting has also been shown to increase the odds of gaining weight. And, as we already know, being overweight contributes to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Some researchers even suggest that increasing your exercise level won’t completely combat the effects of entire days spent sitting. That’s why people started falling for standing desks.

Danger of Standing All Day

Here’s some unwanted news. Even if you get your boss to approve a standing desk, or spring for one on your own, your health woes may not be over.  Standing desks have been known to cause back and foot pain. And that’s not all. Extended periods of standing can leave you feeling tired and less able to concentrate.

Plus, getting to the point of this blog, standing desks increase your risk of DVTs (deep vein thrombosis) and those lovely, bulging varicose veins we all love to hate. Why is that the case? Standing all day overworks your back, leg and feet muscles as you struggle to maintain one position. And, to find out why all day standing can cause spider veins, just keep reading!

Standing Leads to Spider Veins

The veins in your lower legs have to fight gravity to get your blood to flow up your body to your heart. As you age, or when you put too much pressure on those veins, they can weaken or sustain damage. That already makes it harder for blood to get moving.

As a result, blood pools in your veins and the vessels swell. This is when you usually notice spider veins.  Your varicose vein risk increases when it becomes harder for your blood to flow to your heart. Weight gain, tight clothes and—you guessed it—long periods on your feet—make it harder for blood to flow. That’s why standing desks, and jobs like construction work or nursing that keep you on your feet, make you more likely to develop spider veins.

Should you Choose a Standing Desk?

Since neither option is perfect, a standing desk is still a great choice. Because it moves up and down, you can alternate between periods of sitting and time spent standing. But how often should you switch positions?

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on this front. Experts recommend changing positions anywhere between every 20, 30 or 60 minutes. And some get more specific about standing desks. They say you should not stand up to wor for more than 10 minutes out of every hour. You can also invest in an anti-fatigue mat to use when you’re standing up at your desk. This can help take some pressure off your lower legs and feet.

If you follow these guidelines, you can minimize your risk of standing or sitting too much. It’s also a great idea to step away from your desk for quick walking breaks throughout the day. Even small bursts of movement can help keep your blood flowing as it should.

Making the switch to a standing desk can be life changing—as long as you know the risks and take the appropriate precautions. Still with proper care, you can almost certainly enjoy this innovative office feature without the fear of destroying your vein health. And if you have concerns about sitting, standing and your vein health, come in for a diagnostic vein scan. We’ll let you know if that standing desk is a good idea or not!

Sources: The Mountaineer

4 Minimally Invasive Vein Treatments

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

Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to perform more invasive procedures. After all, the doctors at our Houston area vein clinics attended four years of medical school. Next, they completed four-year diagnostic radiology residencies and Interventional Radiology fellowships.

So, what’s the difference between our specialty and those of other doctors? Our goal as interventional radiologists is to offer less expensive, less invasive alternatives to surgery. And our procedures come with shorter recovery periods, less pain and lower risks of complications.

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

What is a minimally invasive vein treatment?

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

Interventional radiology procedures include:

  • Varicose vein ablation: this out-patient procedure sends heat to malfunctioning veins. The high temperature permanently closes up the problem vein, eliminating its appearance on your skin and preventing vein disease progression.
  • Uterine fibroid embolization, a non-surgical procedure that effectively kills these tumors without an overnight hospital stay!
  • Sclerotherapy: a great option for varicose veins that don’t look great, but aren’t showing signs that you’ve got serious vein disease. Essentially, this is a great cosmetic option. With liquid sclerotherapy, we inject your veins with an FDA-approved solution. That causes spider veins to collapse and shrink, so your body reabsorbs them. You’ll need between three or four 30-minute treatments, spaced at least three weeks apart.
  • Phlembectomy … this is a surgical procedure, but it’s still minimally invasive. Basically, when your bulging veins are located right under your skin, we can use local anesthetic, then make several tiny incisions in your leg. Through those incisions, we remove your bulging vein and, because the slits were so small, you won’t need stitches and any scarring will be minimal. Plus, six months after your procedure, any marks should disappear entirely!

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

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

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

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

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

Sources: Radiology Info

Good and Bad Cholesterol, PAD and Your Veins

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

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

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

The Problem with Good Cholesterol

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

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

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

New Findings on Olive Oil

Even with warnings about good cholesterol, there’s still evidence supporting olive oil benefits. In fact, a new study in Atherosclerosis says that daily olive oil intake protect against PAD. At the same time, it says that olive pomace oil (extracted from olive pulp) could increase your PAD risk.

The findings were part of PREDIMED-Plus, the largest nutrition trial study in Spain. It involved 4,330 participants. Researchers looked at the ankle-brachial index (ABI), considered a PDA marker. And tried to make a connection with patients’ olive oil and olive pomace oil consumption.

What they found was interesting. Participants with the highest olive oil consumption had higher ABI readings. Which meant lower PAD risks.

And, based on those findings, researchers made an important conclusion. Patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease could help prevent PAD by consuming olive oil. And they could raise their risk by taking pomace olive oil. The study appears to confirm the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet. Which is balanced and full of other heart healthy foods. And likely keeps your good cholesterol levels in the right window.

 

Early Warnings about High Good and Bad Cholesterol

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

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

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

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

The Dos and Don’ts of Exercise and Varicose Veins

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

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

The Best Exercises for Varicose Vein Sufferers

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

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

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

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

Varicose Vein Warnings for Cyclists

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

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

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

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

What Workouts Should I Avoid if I have Varicose Veins?

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

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

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

When Should I Treat my Varicose Veins?

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

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

Should I Take Fish Oil Supplements?

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

Fish Oil

Fish Oil Recommendations

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

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

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

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

Does Taking Fish Oil Help Prevent Heart Attacks?

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

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

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

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

The Future of Fish Oil Supplements

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

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

Sources: National Library of Medicine, JAMA Cardiology

Try This Vein Health Diet Now

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

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

Sodium Intake in your Vein Health Dietsodium hurts vein health

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

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

Fried Food

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

Skip the Booze

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

Eat the Rainbow and Drink Up that Water

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

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

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

Sources: San Diego Vein Institute

 

5 Ways to Prevent Spider Veins

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

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

Preventing Vein Damage and Varicose Veins

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

  1. Protect your skin from the sun

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

  2. Don’t stand or sit for extended periods

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

  3. Wear compression socks or hose

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

  4. Make overall health your priority

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

  5. Get sweaty on the regular

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

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

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

The Power of Everyday Stretching and PAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blood Flow, Stretching and PAD Study

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

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

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

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

Preventing and Treating PAD

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sources: MIT.edu, The Journal of Physiology

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