Category: News

What is arterial embolization and what does it treat?

We’re interventional radiologists in Houston, TX. So we regularly perform arterial embolization. Using this procedure, we shut off blood flow to certain parts of your body for therapeutic reasons. We use a catheter to inject embolic material to your veins or arteries. Usually, these are plastic beads that are safe for your body, but still block your blood movement. This way, we can treat uterine fibroids or varicocele. (These are swollen veins in your scrotum. Left untreated, they’re a major cause of male infertility.)

When it’s your veins that are affected, embolization can still help. In this case, we inject medication that causes foam to form. Then, it closes the problem spider vein. (We call this sclerotherapy.) Or, when you have a more serious condition—varicose veins—we use directed heat therapy. (Called radiofrequency vein ablation.)

Basically, since the 1970s,  we’ve used arterial embolization to treat many vein and arterial complications. But today, doctors are learning how this procedure could treat many other conditions. And with great promise, too! So please join us as we take a closer look!

What is arterial embolization?

This is a minimally invasive procedure. That means you won’t need general anaesthetic. Plus, you can usually avoid an overnight hospital stay after arterial embolization. Also, your recovery is much easier than after surgery of any kind.

As we mentioned, interventional radiologists have spent years treating patients with arterial embolization. And that launched many new treatment avenues. After great results with varicocele, doctors now use AE to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). (That condition causes an enlarged prostate.)

Emerging Applications

Right now, researchers at Imperial College London are exploring whether arterial embolization could manage obesity. In studies, they’re trying to block blood flow to the top of the stomach. Because that’s where your body produces a hunger-inducing hormone called ghrelin. And, since hormones travel to your brain through your bloodstream, blocking flow away from the ghrelin production zone could reduce unpleasant hunger pangs. in turn, people might find it easier to lose weight.

Early results are promising. In similar U.S. studies, participants lost up to 10% of their body weight following gastric arterial embolization. Still, London studies are ongoing, so it will likely take some time before this becomes a widespread treatment option.

Arterial Embolization: New Hope for Patients with Liver Cancer

Right now, patients with liver cancer receive systemic chemotherapy, but much of the tumor-fighting medication gets lost in the bloodstream. To help improve direct deliver—and patient outcomes—researchers are trying to develop a new treatment method, called trans-arterial chemoembolisation (TACE). Like arterial embolization, doctors using this approach would directly deposit chemotherapy drugs into a liver tumor via injection. Then, through arterial embolization, they’d close the hepatic artery, cutting off blood flow to the liver so the tumors lose their source of nutrition.

In this way, treatment offers a two-pronged attack. First, the medication directly targets the tumor. Then,  AE cuts off any form of blood flow. And that means tumors can’t get larger while drugs become more effective. While available to some patients in the UK, TACE is still considered a back-up treatment. It’s only recommended if surgery isn’t an option.

Hope for Sore Knees?

Finally, Royal Berkshire Hospital is exploring AE for arthritis. It blocks blood flow to the geniculate artery. And that  reduces arthritis-related knee pain and inflammation.

While still under investigation, one Japanese study proved that arthritis patients enjoyed 75% less knee pain in the four years after AE. Also, early RBH results came out last year in Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology. They show that patients’ knee pain improved by 50% just three months after treatment.

Arterial Embolization Treatment in Houston, TX

Our team is so excited about all the emerging ways AE could help offer less invasive treatment options to a wide range of patients. But we’re also very proud of the results we can already deliver for patients with arterial or vein health concerns. For that reason, we invite you to schedule an appointment with our Houston area vein specialists, and explore less invasive treatment options for vein and arterial disease.

What is lymphedema and who’s at risk for this condition?

What is lymphedema? It’s a form of chronic swelling. But, unlike other forms of swelling (or edema) lymphedema doesn’t develop when a fluid such as blood or water gets trapped in your soft tissue. Instead, this type of swelling sets in when your body’s lymph fluid gets trapped in the sift tissue of your skin.

Once that occurs, you’ll notice swelling that won’t go away. When you press down on the swollen areas of skin, the imprint of your finger will stick around. And, eventually, the problem can be painful.

But what is lymph fluid? Why would it get trapped in your skin? And who’s at risk for lymphedema? Keep reading for the answer to these and other important questions!

What is Lymph fluid? What is lymphedema?

Lymph fluid circulates within your body as part of the lymphatic system that travels alongside your veins and arteries. Filled with proteins and fats, this fluid helps get white blood cells to spots in your body where infection-fighting is necessary.

Since lymph fluid is key to helping immunity, anything that blocks it’s movement could leave you vulnerable to infection. Plus, once trapped in your soft tissue, built up lymph can also cause your body to form scar tissue or new fat deposits in the affected areas. Together, this combination can impact your mobility, making it difficult for you to get through your day.

Now you have a better understanding of lymph fluid. But why would it stop circulating? And what causes lymphedema? Unfortunately, there’s no one answer to this question. Because several different triggers or conditions could lead to the buildup of lymphatic fluid in your body.

 

What is Lymphedema? Underlying Causes of Chronic Swelling

Common causes of lymphedema include:

1.       Your genetics or family history

2.       Advanced vein disease

3.       Illness, including heart disease, heart failure, obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease, or kidney disease

4.       Physical trauma

5.       Cancer treatment, particularly for breast cancer survivors whose lymph nodes were removed. (Sadly, black women have a higher risk of lymphedema following breast cancer surgery when compared to women of other races.)

Symptoms include swelling in your arm, leg, fingers or toes. (It could affect the entire limb, or only smaller parts.) Your limb may feel tight or heavy, and it could display limits on range of motion. Your affected arm or leg could ache or feeling uncomfortable. You may develop recurring infections, thick or hardened skin and, when lymphedema hits your lower body, leg cramps could also develop.

Regardless of the cause of lymphedema, it’s important to seek medical attention at the first sign of swelling. After all, the condition is progressive. And, if left untreated, your swelling could become both very painful and debilitating.

What is Lymphedema? Swelling that Usually Gets Worse Over Time

This condition develops in four stages. In its earliest stages, your symptoms may be very mild. Your arms or legs could feel heavy or experience a mild tingling sensation. But, as more fluid builds up, swelling will set in.

Once that occurs, things could get serious. In fact, for some people, the swelling of lymphedema makes it difficult to wear regular clothing. And, for others, the swelling is so severe that movement is challenging. Luckily, with early intervention, it’s usually possible to prevent this degree of progression.

Treatment Options

When caught early, we’ve seen great results using compression therapy for lymphedema. In many cases, you’ll combine compression socks or sleeves with a special form of massage to help get lymph fluid moving. (It’s called manual lymphatic drainage.)

Newer treatment options involve light therapy and surgery. But since there’s no way to predict if surgery will relieve swelling, it’s best to choose an earlier, less invasive intervention. In fact, because lymphatic surgeries offer mixed results, many surgeons instead opt to remove built up fat deposits using liposuction. Because, in this way, you can reduce lymphedema’s physical symptoms and limitations. But you won’t have to worry about patients not responding to treatment.

Supportive Products

Like we said, compression socks can really help with the fluid build-up. But did you know there are also special compression pumps you can use to get built-up fluid circulating? If you need a more dramatic intervention, this in-home medical device could help you manage your condition.

In less severe cases, grabbing a new bike can help you improve lymphedema through gentle exercise. Additionally, certain dietary changes can help improve circulation and reduce swelling. So stocking up on circulation boosting grocery items such as green tea could also help manage lymphedema at home.

Houston Lymphedema Help

Treating vein disease may help prevent lymphedema from developing or progressing. Plus, when you see your Houston area vein specialists, we can also prescribe compression therapy to help manage your chronic swelling.

Ready to manage swelling and regain mobility? We’re here to help. So reach out today and schedule your consultation at one of our five Houston-area locations!

Sources: Michigan Health

 

Why are my Feet Numb? Help for Diagnosing PAD

Are you wondering, why are my feet numb? Or have you developed leg cramps or calf pain when you walk? While these symptoms might send you running to the podiatrist, they’re actually a sign of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a form of heart disease. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Are My Feet Numb? Early Signs of Heart Disease why are my feet numb

When you think about heart disease, you probably think about chest pain. Maybe you’ve even heard that shooting arm pain could be a heart attack warning sign. But you probably don’t think about your feet telling you something about your heart. And that’s a mistake.

After all, your heart’s got a big job: it has to circulate blood throughout your body. But, if something slows down your circulation, this form of heart disease could trigger symptoms in your feet and legs.

For that reason, the answer to, “Why are my feet numb,” could be: your heart’s in trouble. And, more specifically, it could be a sign you’ve got PAD. Especially if you also notice leg cramps, skin color changes or patches of hair loss on your legs.

Leg Cramps and Whole Body PAD Symptoms

Why does PAD cause numbness or leg cramps? The answer is pretty simple. When you have this condition, plaque has built up inside your arteries. (We call this atherosclerosis.)  This build-up narrows your arteries, so less blood gets through to your legs and feet.

What happens next? Well, with reduced blood flow, numb feet are possible. Plus, those leg cramps we mentioned can show up when you walk or exercise. And that’s because they’re not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood to support their movement.

C.H.A.T Campaign for Diagnosing PAD

In April, we marked “Limb Loss Awareness Month” and “National Minority Health Month.” And that’s why we need to answer questions like “Why are my feet numb?” by diagnosing PAD. After all, three-in-five heart attack sufferers have PAD, as do one fifth of people over 60 and one-third of people with diabetes over the age of 50. Members of minority communities have a high risk of undiagnosed PAD, which ups their risk for heart attacks, strokes, and  amputations.

For that reason, activists launched a new campaign, called Let’s C.H.A.T.,” to help clinicians diagnosing PAD during routine checkups. The initials stand for Carotids, Heart, Abdomen, and Toes. And they offer a plan for determining vascular health with the tools available in a typical clinic. Here’s how it all breaks down.

C: Check the neck arteries, called CAROTIDS, for an audible sound known as a bruit. This suggests problems with blood flow.

H: Check HEART rhythm and rate.

A: Listen for a bruit in the ABDOMEN.

T: Examine the TOES for foot and leg pulses. This can help detect restricted blood flow due to PAD.

Along with a comprehensive oral health history and our PAD risk assessment metric, these little letters could help patients get an earlier diagnosis. And reduce their risk for cardiovascular complications.

Why are my feet numb and other PAD Symptoms

Of course, these aren’t the only signs of PAD. Other common symptoms include changes in your feet and legs’ skin color. (Usually becoming pale, or even developing a blue-ish tinge.)

Your feet may feel cold, the growth of your leg hair and toenails may slow, or you may even develop leg ulcers. It’s also important to mention that PAD symptoms differ for men and women. Some men develop erectile dysfunction with this condition. And women tend to have fewer noticeable symptoms. This means their diagnoses come later, leading to more serious complications and more invasive treatment needs.

Preventing PAD

Several lifestyle changes can help you reduce your risk for PAD. First and most important: quit smoking if you haven’t already. Like PAD, smoking limits your blood flow. So the two together can make a deadly combination.

Next, it’s very important to follow a vein health diet, to control your cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, and keep your blood sugar levels in the ideal range. Regular exercise can prevent heart disease. (And certain types of exercise can even improve PAD symptoms like leg cramps.) Of course, in some cases these measures won’t be enough to prevent disease. In that case, you’ll need to seek medical treatment options.

Diagnosing and Treating PAD in Houston, TX PAD treatment

Identifying PAD is crucial, because the condition increases your risk for strokes and heart attacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Because of this serious risk, preventing peripheral arterial disease is incredibly important. And so is early diagnosis and intervention.

In our Houston area vein clinics, we offer an easy assessment to help identify your PAD risk. Then, if you have an elevated risk, or already have atherosclerosis, we can recommend a variety of treatment options. These include angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy. And the option we suggest for you will depend on your current health and the severity of your condition.

Why are my Feet Numb? Non-PAD Related Causes

In some cases, numb feet and leg cramps don’t mean you have PAD. In fact, if you’re diabetic, the answer to “Why are my feet numb?” could be peripheral neuropathy. (This is a form of nerve damage that impacts up to 70% of diabetics. And it limits feeling in your feet, or causes tingling or burning pain.)

Neuropathy is also a common after-effect of chemotherapy. And people living with HIV may also develop this form of nerve damage. You could even develop numb feet without PAD or neuropathy: this symptom could be a side effect of certain medications, as well as autoimmune diseases, kidney problems or even liver issues.

Regardless of the cause, numb feet and leg cramps are symptoms you can’t ignore. For that reason, if you’ve noticed changes in foot sensation, leg cramps or other PAD warning signs, the time to act is now. Schedule an immediate appointment with our team of Houston area vein specialists. Using the Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI, a simple bedside test) we can quickly and painlessly diagnose peripheral arterial disease. Then, if that’s the cause of your numb feet, we can tailor your treatment plan to prevent serious complications and heart disease progression.

 

Here’s How Our Endovascular Procedures Help Chronic Limb Ischemia Treatment

When you have Type 2 diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) as well as critical limb ischemia (CLI). With CLI, there’s also a risk of tissue loss from ulcers and gangrene. And, for that reason, you’re more likely to need chronic limb-threatening ischemia treatment (CLTI).

Recently, a study came out explaining how endovascular treatments can help with CLTI outcomes. Of course, our Houston area interventional radiologists are excited about these findings. So, today, we’ll review how endovascular therapy can improve ischemia treatment outcomes. But first, let’s take a closer look at the complex conditions we’re exploring in this post: PAD, CLI and CLTI.

What is PAD? endovascular therapy boosts ischemia treatment

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) describes a build-up of plaque in your arteries. With this condition, you’ll experience slower blood flow from the heart to the rest of your body. But what’s that plaque composed of? Well, it forms from cholesterol, calcium, fibrin, and fatty substances. Over time, that mix narrows or ‘hardens’ your arteries. (We call this Atherosclerosis.) And, once atherosclerosis sets in, reduced blood flow to your vital organs and limbs will make it harder for them to keep up with your body’s demands. Soon, you’ll notice painful symptoms such as leg cramps with movement. You may also develop changes in skin color, patches of hair loss on your legs, ulcers and other warning signs and symptoms.

What is CLI?

This is a severe form of PAD. When you have CLI, you often experience chronic pain, even without movement. Your risk for ulcers and gangrene are also much higher. And that’s because of the long-term lack of sufficient blood flow to your lower limbs.

With CLI, you may also experience unpleasant symptoms such as foot pain and/or numbness, and a reduced or missing pulse in your feet. Additionally, leg and foot wounds will take longer to heal, which is why you’re at greater risk for ulcers and tissue death.

What is CLTI? swollen, painful legs and ankles could be lymphedemaolding knee

This is a clinical diagnosis we’d make if you have PAD as well as resting foot pain and a lower leg ulcer or a gangrenous patch for 2 weeks or longer. We consider this diagnosis to be extremely dangerous; with CLTI, you’re at a very high risk for limb loss. So you need to seek ischemia treatment. And, according to new study findings, seeking endovascular care to open up your arteries could be a great option.

How Endovascular Therapy Boosts Ischemia Treatment

Clearly, seeking ischemia treatment can prevent limb loss. And that’s especially true for people with diabetes, who have additional circulation challenges, even without PAD. Until recently, ischemia treatment options included wound treatment, controlling the infections, and arterial revascularization.

Now, there are two ways to pull off arterial revascularization. These include bypass surgery or endovascular interventions. As interventional radiologists, we always prefer the endovascular approach. We believe that it minimizes the risks of undergoing open surgery. Plus, it does so while yielding similar or greater results.

But you don’t have to take our word for it! In fact, in a recent review of two patients with CLTI, researchers followed two diabetic patients with unhealed lesions. Both patients received quality wound care, help for their glucose levels, and endovascular therapy to restore blood flow. Here’s what the study revealed about this approach to ischemia treatment.  procedure.

Endovascular Arterial Care to Speed Ischemia Treatment

The two patients involved in this study received endovascular therapy to restore arterial blood flow. For the first patient, that meant an angioplasty. With this approach, therapists use a balloon to widen a diseased artery. And that way, more blood flows through.

Now, the second patient’s therapy involved stent placement in the diseased artery. That means doctors placed a tiny, expandable coil in the troubled artery. This coil can push aside built up plaque and help boost blood flow to the lower limbs.

While both endovascular patients received different forms of therapy, they enjoyed similar results. Their wounds healed, and their painful symptoms resolved. As such, researchers concluded that seeking ischemia treatment with an endovascular procedure “may result in a better outcome of wound healing.”

Arterial Revascularization for Ischemia Treatment in Houston, TX

Are you living with PAD and worried about CLI and limb loss? Our Houston area vein specialists are here to help. In our Houston, Katy, Sugar Land, Clear Lake and The Woodlands locations, we offer arterial angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy therapies. So, if you’ve been told that ischemia treatment is the best way to save your limbs? Don’t rush to the surgical table. Instead, schedule a consultation with our doctors. We’ll help you explore less invasive ways to manage PAD and prevent amputations!

Sources:

Vascular Health Risk Management, Cureus

 

 

Here are the Blood Clot Signs that Need Medical Attention

Sometimes, blood clots form without giving you any warning. But sometimes, your body send you blood clot signs that mean you’re heading for trouble. And we want you to identify them easily, so you can seek quick care if any develop.

What are blood clots? blood clot signs

A blood clot forms when some of the blood in your vessels becomes a solid mass. You can develop a clot in your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to your body. They can also form in veins, which carry blood from your extremities back to your heart. Or you can form a clot in your capillaries, whose job is to connect your veins and arteries.

Still, blood clots are most likely to form in your deep leg veins. (We call this clot a deep vein thrombosis or DVT.) Along with identifying blood clot signs, it’s very important to recognize DVT symptoms. Because, if this leg clot breaks free, it could travel to your lungs. There, it becomes a pulmonary embolism, which could be a fatal condition.

Most Common Blood Clot Signs in the Legs

When a blood clot is first forming, you may not have any visual or physical warning. But there are certain clear blood clot signs in your legs that you need to watch out for.

1.       Swelling

If you notice swelling in your leg, and it doesn’t go away when you put up your feet, that could be a warning of a forming clot. That’s especially true if the swelling lasts throughout the day, or if you notice additional signs of trouble.

2.       New, lingering leg pain

If your legs suddenly feel crampy, and you don’t have PAD, this new, nagging pain could be one of several DVT symptoms. So it’s worth mentioning to your vein specialist, especially if you already have varicose veins.

3.       Changes to your varicose veins

Watch your varicose veins carefully, as any of these changes could be blood clot signs. First, if your vein starts bulging more prominently, and won’t flatten out when you elevate your legs, you could be developing a superficial blood clot.

Other blood clots signs include veins that suddenly turn hard, or surrounding skin that turns red and feels tender to the touch.

Systemic Warning Signals

As we mentioned, you need to watch DVT symptoms carefully, because these clots can travel to your lungs. If you have a pulmonary embolism, your symptoms can include new or different shortness of breath—especially if it doesn’t go away with rest.

You may also experience lingering chest pain, or chest pain that develops when you breathe deeply. In extreme cases, you may even cough up significant amounts of blood if you have a blood clot in your chest.

What to Do if You Notice Blood Clot Signs

If you think you have a pulmonary embolism, you should immediately go to the emergency room. There, you can get a quick CT scan and breathing tests, so we’ll know if you have a blood clot in your lungs. If the tests reveal a PE, treatment can begin right away.

Now, if you only have DVT symptoms, you can skip the ER. But you should schedule an immediate appointment with our team of Houston area vein specialists. Studies show that early intervention is very important when we treat deep vein clots. It means compression therapy and other interventions may be more effective. So, the sooner you alert us to the problem, the sooner we can offer treatment and results. And, more importantly, the less likely you are to face life-threatening complications like a pulmonary embolism!

Here’s Why you Should Worry about Blue Veins on Legs

When you look down, do you notice blue veins on legs? Are you wondering if veins visible on legs is a medical problem? Here’s what you need to know.

Spider Veins vs Varicose Veins Blue veins on legs

When you notice blue or purple veins that are visible on your legs, they could be spider veins or varicose veins. And, while people use those terms interchangeably, they’re actually quite different.

If you have spider veins, it means that tiny veins near the surface of your skin have stretched because of early vein disease. They usually appear as red or blue veins on legs, and can cluster together, looking like a spider web.

Varicose veins are also a symptom of vein disease. But, with this degree of progression, the veins visible on legs will also appear bulging and twisted. Now, while both conditions hurt your legs’ cosmetic appearance, they are also signs of malfunctions with your veins. So seeking medical treatment is important. And the sooner the better, since vein disease is progressive, which means your symptoms will get worse over time without intervention.

Blue Veins on Legs and Other Varicose Vein Symptoms

As we’ve reviewed, veins that become visible on your legs are a common symptom. But with varicose veins, you may also experience:

– Leg pain, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods

-Swelling

– Leg ulcers that won’t heal

Bleeding from an affected vein

– Changes to the skin on your legs and ankles, including dry or scaly patches, or hardening around the varicose veins

– Itchy skin

Skin color changes around the problem veins

-Foot and ankle swelling (edema)

– Leg cramps

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are veins that aren’t working properly. Normally, your veins work to send de-oxygenated  blood back to your heart from the rest of your body. To help them do that, your veins contain valves that open and close to help push the blood upwards against gravity. Sometimes, those valves stop doing their jobs, and that allows blood to build up. Especially in the veins in your legs. Next, the blood stretches and thins your veins, making them bulge. Now, those blue veins on legs give you visual proof that somethings wrong with your circulatory system. But why would your valves stop working efficiently?

Often this is a side effect of aging, since your veins naturally stretch and thin as you get older. This lets more blood pool in your legs, which can overwhelm your valves. It can also happen if you suddenly gain weight, as during pregnancy, since the extra pounds puts more pressure on your legs, making it harder to push blood out and up to your heart. Even your job, or a long plane trip, can contribute to vein disease, since standing or sitting for long periods puts pressure on your legs. Which, in turn, can compromise circulation.

Whatever is causing veins that are visible on your legs, seeking early treatment matters. Because, without intervention, symptoms will worsen. And that may leave you with more invasive treatment requirements.

What Happens to Untreated Varicose Veins spider veins on legs

As we’ve mentioned, if you ignore vein disease, it gets worse. Untreated varicose veins can create inflammation in your legs. Then, as blood builds up over time, the combination can lead to Hyper-pigmentation, when the skin on your legs or feet turns darker or becomes discolored.

Without treatment, you may also develop venous ulcers. These open sores are very hard to heal, leaving you vulnerable to infection. They most often form where your skin is thinnest, just above the ankles. But you could develop a venous ulcer at any spot on your legs where extra blood leaks from your veins and through your skin, causing tissue damage.

Sometimes, the blood seepage isn’t noticeable until an ulcer forms. But, at other times, the swelling and pressure from your bulging veins builds up tremendously. Then, even a small bump or cut can cause you to bleed extensively from your varicose veins.

Perhaps more seriously, veins visible on legs are more at risk for blood clots. And that risk applies to both your surface level veins and your deep leg veins. (When that happens, the clot is know as a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. This type of clot is considered a medical emergency because it can break free and travel to your lungs.)

Preventing and Treating Varicose Veins in Houston, TX

If you have a family history of vein disease, there are steps you can take to prevent varicose veins from forming. First, think about wearing compression socks, especially during long car rides or when traveling by airplane.

Next, get regular exercise. Any activity is good for circulation. But workouts like walking, biking or even calf raises are particularly effective because they strengthen the muscles in your legs that help pump blood up to your heart.

Always try to move positions, avoiding sitting or standing for too long a time. Look carefully at your wardrobe—tight jeans or even Spanx could impact your blood flow. And do your best to follow a healthy diet and maintain your ideal weight.

Of course, prevention won’t work for everyone. So, if you look down and see blue veins on legs, don’t cover up and hope the problem will go away. Instead, schedule a consultation with our Houston area vein specialists right away. We’ll review your treatment options and come up with a plan to protect you from further vein disease complications.

Check out this Brand New DVT Treatment

If vein disease has upped your risk for deep vein thrombosis, you’ll be excited to learn about this new DVT treatment. Remember, a DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of your legs. We consider this condition a medical emergency, because if clots break free, they can travel to your lungs. There, as a pulmonary embolism, this clot could become fatal. So seeking treatment for a blood clot in the leg could be key to saving your life. And now, thanks to research coming from Turkey, there’s a new form of deep vein thrombosis treatment designed to help prevent dangerous complications!

Why do DVTs Form?  DVT treatment

As we mentioned, DVTs are a type of blood clot. And blood clots form when your veins or arteries don’t work the way they should. You see, when your circulatory system is health, your blood can travel easily throughout your body. The arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your extremities. Then your veins return blood to your heart to get an infusion of oxygen.

Sometimes, the system gets disrupted when you hurt yourself. If you sustain a cut that makes you bleed, blood near the site of injury will start to clot. That way, your cut can heal without making you lose too much blood. Clearly, that’s the kind of clot you want to develop.

But sometimes, clots can form even when you didn’t get hurt. This could happen if your arteries are blocked by plaque. Or, these clots may form in your veins, often because they were weakened or damaged, causing your body to increase production of clotting proteins and platelets.

Prolonged sitting or standing can also increase your risk for DVT. That’s why a long air flight could leave you seeking DVT treatment. Why is that the case? When you don’t move for an extended period, blood pools in your legs. This can make it harder for your veins to get blood out of your lower extremities. In turn, your DVT risk increases. Especially if you already have symptoms of vein disease such as spider or varicose veins.

DVT Symptoms

In some cases, a DVT can develop without any warning signs. But many people report symptoms such as swelling in the affected leg. You may also experience leg pain, cramping, or a sore spot on your skin. The area around the clot may also appear red, and can be warm to the touch.

Current DVT Treatment Options treatment for blood clot in leg

If you’re diagnosed with a DVT, you may need medications such as blood thinners or thrombolytics. If these medications aren’t an option, you may need an internal filter to help break up the clot. Regardless of the treatment you receive, you’ll likely be told to wear compression stockings.

In fact, you may begin compression therapy while you’re receiving other forms of DVT treatment. By doing so, you can dramatically reduce your risk for complications such as clots that remain in your veins. It also lowers your risk for post-thrombotic syndrome, a condition that leaves you with lingering symptoms such as swelling, pain and discoloration of your leg skin.

New Treatment for Blood Clot in Leg

Recently, Turkish health care INVAMED-RD Global developed a deep vein thrombosis treatment designed to quickly dissolve the clot. Instead of relying on prescription medications, their technology uses three internal access points and an active tip to targets clots directly.

Once the tech gets near your clot, that tip softens up the clot with strong rotational movements, making it easier to dissolve. Then, it delivers a combination of a thrombolytic medication and a contrast agent, finishing the job at a faster rate than traditional treatment options.

Why does that matter? Well, as we said, DVTs can breaks free and become pulmonary embolisms. And about 33% of patients with a PE die if they don’t receive immediate attention.  Even without a PE, about one in three patients whose DVT care proceeds slowly develop post-thrombosis syndrome. So, developing a new deep vein thrombosis treatment that delivers fast results? That could mean better quality of life for so many patients with vein disease.

Are you concerned that vein disease has increased your risk for DVT? Don’t wait for problems to develop. Schedule an appointment today with our team of Houston area vein specialists. We can manage your vein health and provide preventative care so that you never need to worry about seeking DVT treatment.

 

Sources: Mayo Clinic

Ask the Vein Doctors: Why is it Good to take Vitamin C?

Have you wondered, why is it good to take Vitamin C? Well, there are many vitamin c benefits. It’s linked to boosting immunity, reducing inflammation and improving blood flow. And, given all this potential, taking vitamin c could be a great way to protect your vein health, too. Let’s take a closer look!

Vitamin C Sources Why is it good to take Vitamin C

Unlike vitamin D, which is hard to source through your diet, it’s pretty easy to get your vitamin c dose from your food. You probably already know that oranges are a great source for this vitamin.

But if OJ’s not your thing, you can also get a healthy dose of c vitamins from both red, yellow and chili peppers, parsley and thyme, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwis, strawberries and more.

Now, while it’s easy to source vitamin c, your body can’t make or store this important nutrient. For that reason, you’ll have to meet your body’s intake requirements every day. And, though every body is different, most sources suggest getting 90mg daily.

Why is it Good to Take Vitamin C: Stronger Blood Vessels

Do you have spider veins? (These are small blood vessels, just beneath your skin, that become visible when they fill up with pooling blood.) Then taking vitamin c could help prevent your bulging veins from getting larger. How could that be?

As we mentioned earlier, this vitamin can reduce inflammation. In that role, it can help protect your blood vessels’ lining, called the endothelial barrier. (This is important for all of us, but especially for people with inflammatory conditions.) Also, this important vitamin can help your body synthesize collagen. (All over, but especially in the walls of your capillaries.) By doing so, you can help prevent failed small blood vessels. And further reduce your risk for unsightly spider veins.

Effects on Atherosclerosis

Your veins aren’t the only blood carriers that can benefit from your daily dose of vitamin c. In fact, this vitamin is also important for your arterial health. And here’s how.

As you age, especially if your diet includes lots of fatty, processed foods, plaque can build up in your arteries. This can lead to a condition known as atherosclerosis, in which your arteries narrow and blood flow suffers. (Atherosclerosis can also contribute to peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, a condition we treat in our Houston area vein clinics.)

Now, vitamin c can’t prevent plaque build up. But it can prevent your smooth vascular muscle cells from dying. (We call cell death apoptosis.) In that way, if you’ve already got atherosclerosis, getting enough vitamin c can stabilize your existing plaque build up. And that will lower your risk for heart attack or stroke.

Why is it Good to Take Vitamin C for Blood Pressure?

Finally, taking vitamin c can help lower your blood pressure. In this case, the vitamin’s effects on blood pressure are indirect, but important. At first, c vitamins boost nitrous oxide production in your blood vessels. That leads to vasodilation, when your blood vessels relax. After vasodilation, blood flows with greater ease. And that can lower your blood pressure.

Why is blood pressure so important? Well, when your blood pressure is too high, your heart and arteries work much harder. Over time, that extra makes your heart muscle thicken. If that happens, it won’t fill properly, and every part of your circulatory system will suffer. For that reason, and all the others we just reviewed, taking vitamin c is a great way to protect your cardiovascular and circulatory health.

Embracing a Vein Healthy Diet spinach lowers PAD risk

As you can see, vitamin c is important for your vein health. But it’s not the only nutrient you need to keep your blood pumping and prevent spider or varicose veins. To stay healthy, try cutting out fatty foods and excess alcohol, while limiting your salt intake.

Then, add in lots of fiber, as well as a rainbow’s worth of fruits and veggies. Finally, try to swap animal proteins for leaner or plant-based options. And, if you’re concerned about your risk for vein disease or PAD, schedule a consultation with our office. Together, we can review the lifestyle changes that will lower your risk for complications. And we can also decide if any further interventions will be necessary.

What is May-Thurner Syndrome and How’s it Treated?

May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS) develops when your left iliac vein gets compressed by your right common iliac artery. This hampers drainage in your left leg. And, without treatment, you’ll face an increased risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the deep veins of your leg.

May-Thurner Syndrome: Who’s at Risk?May-Thurner syndrome after bed rest for pregnancy

This condition mostly affects younger, women between the ages of 20 and 45. It’s most likely to develop if you’ve been immobile for a long time, or after a pregnancy. But it can impact women of other ages, though it’s less likely. And in rare cases, men may also be affected.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common May-Thurner symptoms include pelvic pain, painful leg swelling and varicose veins, almost always in your left leg. You may also notice changes in skin color, persistent leg pain, swollen veins and leg ulcers. And chronic hemorrhoids, as well as upper leg swelling, may both develop.

Disease Stages

Without treatment, May-Thurner syndrome will progress through a series of stages. At first, while your vein is compressed, you may not notice any symptoms. But then, if compression continues, venous spurs will form. These are fibrous growths in your vein, and they inhibit your blood flow. (That’s when your DVT risk starts to rise.)

After this stage, the next progression would be forming a DVT. At this point, you may notice DVT symptoms such as warm skin, swelling, changes in skin color as well as pain or cramping. A DVT is a medical emergency, because it can break free from your leg veins and travel to your lungs. (This is called a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal disease.)

Diagnosing and Treating May-Thurner Syndrome

We may screen you for May-Thurner syndrome if you come in with varicose veins or other symptoms. (Especially if you’re in the at-risk age group, or recently had a baby or went on extended bed rest.) We can usually detect the compressed vein with a diagnostic ultrasound.

As interventional radiologists, we’re often able to treat this disease by stenting or inflating your compressed vein. This technique opens up your vein, improving blood flow and reducing your risk for DVT. If you’re at risk for May-Thurner Syndrome but aren’t yet in trouble, we can also help you prevent this risky disease.

Tips for Prevention

While we can’t guarantee prevention, certain measures can lower your disease risk. These include wearing compression stockings during your pregnancy. (And when you’re going to be immobile for a long time, as with an extended flight or road trip.)

Sticking to a healthy weight, especially during pregnancy, can also help you avoid May-Thurner Syndrome. And getting regular exercise–especially with moves that involve your calf muscles–can boost blood flow in your leg veins, helping lower your risk.

Are you a woman between the ages of 20 and 45, with any symptoms of May-Thurner syndrome? Don’t wait another day to seek help for this progressive disease. Instead, schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston-area vein specialists. Using our non-invasive imaging devices, we can diagnose this disease in its early stages. That way, we can intervene as soon as possible, and prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

Sources: The Cleveland Clinic

 

3 Blood Clot Warning Signs & Symptoms

Recently on the blog, we spent some time explaining the science of blood clots: what they are, why they form and what they can do to your health. Today, we’re going to provide some more helpful information: this is how you can tell if you’re developing a blood clot!

How Can I tell if I have a Blood Clot?

The scary answer to this question is: you can’t always tell when you’re developing a blood clot. Sometimes, blood clots form without any obvious symptoms. But sometimes blood clots form and cause a range of other impacts on your body. Many of those symptoms will depend on the location of your blood clot.

As it turns out, women have a higher clotting risk. And one early warning sign may be tingling in your hands. That tingling could even cause temporary numbness. So if either symptom develops, you should see your vein specialist immediately.

If you have DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a clot in the deep veins of your legs) you may develop symptoms including redness or other changes of color at the site of your clot, warm skin, swelling, cramps and pain, without any obvious injury. Sometimes, the redness could look streaky, and move down your leg.

If the clot forms in your lower leg, cramping there could be a warning sign of a forming clot. With a DVT, that swelling (called edema) could look a little different than other forms of fluid buildup. Because, if a clot is to blame, you’ll notice pits or depressions in the swollen area that stick around for a few seconds after you press on the skin.

What is a Clot Break?

A clot break is a serious medical complication. This can happen when a DVT breaks loose from your legs and travels to your lungs (Pulmonary embolism).  A clot break could also travel from your heart to your brain, with vascular flow. And this is obviously a potentially fatal complication. With a clot break, you may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath (for no apparent reason), an unexplained cough, chest pain, an increased heart rate and fatigue. Your breath may also come quickly, and you may notice pain in your rib cage, especially when you breathe deeply.

If the clot travels to your brain, the symptoms include loss of strength in your arms and legs, slurred speech and, sadly, sudden death.

If you’re at increased risk (you’ve just taken a long plane trip, you’re pregnant, or have compromised cardiovascular health) see your doctor for any of these symptoms. A blood clot can quickly become a medical emergency.

Do I Need Treatment?

In theory, your blood clot will self-resolve. That means, your body will naturally break it down and absorb the clot—eventually. But that process could take weeks or even months. And, depending on the location of your clot, waiting that long could pose a major threat to your health.

Why? Here’s the deal: if you have a clot in your artery, your cells won’t get the oxygen-rich blood they need to work. So they’ll stop functioning. If the clot cuts off oxygen to your brain cells, you’ll develop stroke symptoms. If the clot’s in your coronary artery (impacting your heart), you’ll start developing heart attack symptoms.

So, clearly, arterial clots are medical emergencies. But clots in your veins, like DVTS, are also serious. And that’s because they cause their own set of symptoms, but also because of their potential to break free and travel to your lungs.

In other words, while you could wait for your body to heal that clot, doing so could be a fatal mistake. Instead, let’s explore the best way to medically treat your blood clot.

 

How Will You Treat My Clot?

Even if it means a trip to the emergency room, see a doctor at the first sign of a clot. If you do have a clot, you’ll need one of two treatments: medication or interventions involving medical devices.

Oral or intravenous (IV) blood thinners can help manage a blood clot. Alternatively, your doctor may insert a wire or catheter to try and open up your blood vessels. Finally, in certain situations, your healthcare provider may surgically remove the blood clot (thromectomy.)

The good news is: blood clot treatments are fairly effective, especially if they are administered quickly.  But in order to benefit from these treatments, you must be seen before the clot grows or causes additional damage like a heart attack or stroke. For that reason, we can’t emphasize this enough: seek immediate medical attention from your Houston vein specialists at the first sign of a suspected blood clot!

Sources: Us News & World Report, KRPC 2 News Houston

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