Category: PAD

Here are 4 Foods and 1 Drink That Can Help PAD

Looking for help for PAD? Well, guess what? Researchers have discovered that drinking hot cocoa could help improve your gait if you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD.) And that’s not all: science also suggests that Vitamin K2 can lower your risk for developing PAD, or other types of coronary disease. Plus, water-based exercises can help restore your mobility. Often as effectively as gym-based workouts, which could be painful when you’re dealing with this health concern.

You see, PAD is a serious condition that sets in when athelosclerosis (hardened arteries) limit blood flow to your lower limbs. And one of the worst PAD symptoms is sudden pain with walking, so we’re excited about preventing PAD, but we’re also excited about this tasty discovery regarding symptom relief! Let’s take a closer look.

Flavanols Offer Help for PAD cocoa offers help for pad

First things first: let’s clear up our cocoa discussion. Cocoa is rich in flavonols, which is why it can help PAD patients. But not all cocoa is created equally. As study author Mary McGrae McDermott explains, “A large amount of chocolate available without a prescription is alkalized, which improves taste [but destroys] the beneficial cocoa flavanols that have therapeutic effects.”

What does that mean? You need powder with more than 85% cocoa content to get health benefits. Simply grabbing some Nesquick at the super market just won’t cut it—even though your cocoa will probably taste pretty great.

Still, the right kind of cocoa has lots of healing properties. According to the study, cocoa flavanols, including epicatechin, “have therapeutic properties that can improve performance when walking in people with PAD.” More specifically, cocoa can help target therapy directly to your legs (limb perfusion) and improve cell and muscle regeneration in your legs. Finally, McDermott notes, previous studies have also discovered that blood flow and muscle health improve with cocoa consumption.

Now we know why cocoa is such a valuable ingredient, let’s take a closer look at how you can leverage cocoa to improve your PAD symptoms.

How Cocoa Fights PAD

The purpose of this study was to see if cocoa could help PAD patients walk longer distances before experiencing leg pain. And, happily, it did! To reach their findings, McDermott’s team studied 44 patients aged 60 and older. Every day, participants drank either cocoa or a placebo drink. By the end of the study period, cocoa drinkers found it much easier to walk for six minutes, as compared to their placebo-drinking counterparts. People who drank three cups a day saw the best results.

In presenting her findings, McDermott explained, “Our study showed better health in the blood flow to the legs, improvements in the 6-minute walking distance and also improved the health of the calf skeletal muscle. Since people with PAD have difficulty walking due to blood flow problems, we think that this particular therapy can be particularly beneficial.”

While these findings are certainly exciting—for our taste buds and our symptom management—don’t start planning to ditch your meds. As mentioned, you’d have to have the exact cocoa makeup included in the study. Plus, while cocoa can help with symptom relief, it’s unlikely to clear up your underlying disease trigger. So, by all means, talk to your doctor about including cocoa in your diet. And take a look at the findings about Vitamin K1 and PAD!

Vitamins and PAD Risk

According to long-term studies in Atherosclerosis, daily vitamin K2 can reduce your PAD risk if you have hypertension or diabetes.

After following over 36,000 men and women for just over 12 years, researchers 489 participants developed PAD. But they found that taking vitamin K2 reduced that PAD risk. All the people benefited from the supplement. But the risk reduction was strongest for those with hypertension, and strongest for those with diabetes.

Based on their discovery, the study authors can recommend daily vitamin k2 supplements. Great sources of vitamin k2 include dairy products, fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut, and some animal products.

Of course, if you already have peripheral arterial disease, you may notice symptoms such as leg cramps while you walk. In which case, you’ll want to read more about water based workouts that offer help for PAD.

Adding Spinach to the Mix  spinach lowers PAD risk

Want to really kick PAD to the curb? A brand new study reveals that eating one cup of spinach a day lowers your PAD risk by 26%! This power green helps in several ways. But their most important job seems to be lowering blood pressure.

As a result, just a few leaves a day also reduces stiffness in your arteries. (Which is likely why it helps lower PAD risk.) And it also means you’re less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. All of which is great news, as far as we’re concerned!

Fighting PAD Symptoms in the Water

According to researchers at Sheffield Hallam University, water based exercises can be an effective part of a PAD rehab program. Plus, these workouts could offer protective cardiovascular health benefits. Because, according to lead author Markos Klonizakis, getting four water workouts a week offered the same protective heart and arterial benefits as four weekly workouts in the gym.

Now, this news is especially important for older adults. Because water workouts are lower impact. Which means they’re easier to do, even if you already deal with joint or PAD pain.

Of course, all of these dietary and lifestyle changes can offer help for PAD. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on any of your other PAD medications. And if you’re worried about your risk, be sure to explore PAD treatment options with your Houston area vein specialists. If you come in to see us, real relief could be available, and sooner than you think.

Sources: Atherosclerosis, Journal of Circulation Research, Nutraingredients.com, British Medical Journal 

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

That Pain in Your Legs? It Could Mean a Blood Flow Problem

So many people are quick to brush off a little pain in your legs. But that tendency is the reason so many people with peripheral artery disease (PAD) have delayed or missed diagnoses.  You see, PAD is a condition that develops slowly and with few symptoms. Inside your body, your blood vessels are slowly narrowing due to atherosclerosis, a build-up of fatty deposits that keeps enough blood and oxygen from getting to your legs. And it’s that lack of oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood which can make your legs feel uncomfortable and crampy. Which in turn is why you should never ignore leg pain that appears for no apparent reason.

Now you know why ignoring leg pain can be so dangerous to your health. Next, let’s take a closer look at ways you can increase the flow of blood to your lower extremities.

Reduce Pain in Legs with Improved Blood Flow

If you want to avoid PAD, or reduce existing symptoms, your best bet is to keep your arteries and blood vessels clear of blockages. You also need to work on improving your blood circulation.

The first step in this process? Get moving! Physical activity encourages blood flow. Plus, it helps you maintain a healthy weight, which can also help your body provide sufficient blood to your extremities.

Still, moving more isn’t enough. Diet is also a crucial part of preventing atherosclerosis, the “hardening of the arteries” that causes PAD. That’s because, through a healthy diet, many individuals may be able to lower their cholesterol levels. And high cholesterol is linked to the build-up of plaque in your arteries. (Keep in mind that some people may require medication to lower cholesterol levels. Discuss all changes to your diet with your healthcare provider.)

How important is your diet to your PAD risk? Well, according to recent research, eating legumes, dietary fiber, and vegetable protein significantly lowers your PAD risk. At the same time, eating all kinds of red meats, processed meats, and/or sugary soft drinks upped your risk by a lot.

So, what does that mean for you? Regardless of whether or not you also need medication, people with PAD should focus on proper nutrition. As it turns out, many of the foods you eat can actually help improve your blood flow and boost the health of your veins and arteries.

Foods That Boost Blood Flow

If you’re worried about blood flow, take a peek at your diet. Try adding beets and beetroot juice–their nitrate content converts into nitric oxide, which improves blood pressure and blood flow. Onions and garlic are also great choices because they help relax your blood vessels. Want a protein option? Fatty fish, rich in omega-3s, boosts blood flow by preventing blockages. 

Spices are another easy way to improve your flow: both turmeric and cayenne are helpful. Rounding out the diet powerhouse? Include pomegranate, oats, beans, and wholegrains. Add nuts, eggplants, apples, berries and citrus fruit, too. Before you know it, that blood will be flowing in tip-top shape!

Even if you don’t have PAD, adding these foods to your diet and increasing your weekly movement can help prevent problems. But, if your legs hurt; or if you notice changes like discolored legs or loss of hair on your legs, you may already have PAD. If that’s the case, don’t delay: make an appointment to see our Houston area PAD specialists right away. Early intervention can prevent further complications, including heart attacks and strokes!

 

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)

The Danger of Leaky Veins and Vein Disease!

Did you know that untreated vein disease could lead to leaky veins? It’s true, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why we want you to stick with preventative health care. Being proactive about your vein health can help you avoid a medical emergency. Which is something New York City mom Tammy Fried learned the hard way. While she was 28 weeks pregnant!

Back in May 2020, Tammy told the Today show that she woke up feeling something wasn’t right. Soon, she had a nose bleed, and started coughing blood! She called for a virtual emergency room visit, and luckily, got sent to the real hospital immediately!

Once there, doctors discovered that one of her abnormal blood vessels burst. Now, that leaky vein was spilling blood into her lungs. Fortunately, there was an interventional radiologist on call at the hospital. So, he could plug the hole with minimally invasive treatments. And she could avoid surgery, helping her recover. And, two weeks later, deliver her baby boy, now nicknamed Miracle Max!

Of course, we want our patients to avoid emergency situations like Tammy’s. So, if your legs are tired, heavy or cramping, your may need a diagnostic ultrasound from your vein specialist. If that is the case, you may be wondering: how will an ultrasound uncover what’s going on inside my legs? Isn’t that kind of technology more common in Obstetrics offices?

Well, you’re partially correct: interventional radiologists use a different kind of ultrasound to diagnose conditions like Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) The technology we use is known as a Doppler ultrasound. And in this post, we’ll teach you how it helps us detect many different kinds of vein disease.

What conditions can a Doppler ultrasound detect?

Doppler ultrasounds check your blood flow. They help us discover whether you have problems like narrowing or leaky veins or blockages in your blood vessels.

This type of ultrasound uses sound waves to check how well blood flows through your legs. Those waves bounce off your moving blood cells, giving your doctors a better picture of the speed and health of your blood flow. Doppler ultrasounds involve hand-held devices; screenings are pain free and non-invasive.

Using a Doppler ultrasound, vein specialists can detect disruptions in your blood flow, hardening of your arteries and even potentially life threatening conditions like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that develops in the deep veins of your legs that rest well below the skin’s surface.

When should I get a Doppler ultrasound?

We may recommend an ultrasound if there are signs that your blood flow has been reduced. These symptoms can include changes in the appearance of the skin on your legs, leg pain that appears with movement, hair loss on your legs or even wounds that won’t heal.

If you’ve had a blood clot, or we suspect you have one, a Doppler ultrasound can quickly confirm this diagnosis.

We may also recommend a Doppler ultrasound if you’ve recently had a stroke or heart attack. That way, we can determine whether compromised blood flow or clots may be putting you at risk for a repeat problem.

What’s involved in a diagnostic ultrasound for leaky veins?

You’ll typically lie down for your ultrasound. Your ultrasound technician may measure pressure in certain areas of your body by apply blood pressure cuffs at points like your ankles, calves or thighs.

Next, your technician will apply lubricant to the  ultarasound guide (called a transducer). Then he or she will move the device over your skin until we receive a good image of your blood flow.  A Doppler ultrasound typically takes up to 45 minutes. Once it’s done, you are usually free to get up and go back to your daily activities.

When you have an ultrasound in our Houston area vein clinics, your results will be reviewed and delivered to you by one of our highly trained team members. If a problem is detected, we will then take the time to discuss and explain your diagnosis, and walk you through all your possible treatment options.

Sounds like an easy way to prevent medical emergencies, right? That’s because it is! So don’t wait another day, worrying that your damaged veins may leak. Instead, schedule an appointment with our team today. We’ll give you a better picture of your health, and protect you from problems that could already be developing!

 

Dental Health and Arteries: Why Brushing and Flossing are A Must

Today, we’re going to share important info about your dental health and arteries. It’s crucial you read this, especially if you brush off your dentist when he or she reminds you to floss! Or if brushing is a rushed, once-a-day, event for you.

Why does that make your interventional radiologists worry? Well, as it turns out, ignoring your dental health could be hurting more than just your teeth. Here’s why:

Gum Disease Affects Your Heart Health 

Over time, poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease like gingivitis. When gingivitis sets in, however, the bacteria from your gums doesn’t stay put in your mouth! As it turns out, that bacteria can release toxins that enter your bloodstream. Those toxins contribute to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. And when fatty plaque narrows your arteries, you may develop Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) PAD limits the amount of blood flow reaching your legs and feet. It is a painful condition that makes it difficult to exercise or even walk. PAD can also increase your risk of forming blood clots.

How to Recognize Gum Disease

The best way to keep your gums from hurting your arteries is to protect those gums with proper care. Brush your teeth, twice a day, for two minutes at a time. Ideally, you should floss after every meal, but aim for at least once a day, before you go to bed, so food stuck between your teeth doesn’t linger overnight, causing problems.

And, even with a proper dental care routine, it’s important to learn the early warning signs of gum disease. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should see your dentist right away:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth come together when you bite down

Dental Health and Arteries: How to Tell if Your Arteries are OK

Even if your dental health seems alright, you need to understand your PAD risk. You can take our online PAD risk  assessment. Or you can try this easy at-home exercise.

First, lie on the floor and raise your feet in the air. Then, bend your legs so they’re at a 45-degree angle to your body. Now, hold your position. After a few minutes, take a look at your feet and take note of their color. If they’re white or very pale, you may already have circulation problems. Even if only one of your feet looks off in color, you could already be in danger.

Remember: your peripheral arteries get blood to your feet. So, if they’re clogged, your muscles won’t get enough oxygen. Left unchecked, this can lead to pain or numbness in your legs, in addition to changes in your skin color. All of these are common PAD symptoms. And, left untreated, PAD can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Which is why it’s crucial to protect your dental health and arteries.

Protecting Your Arteries From Gum Disease

If you have a confirmed case of gingivitis, you should take steps to protect your arteries, especially if you’ve been told you’re at risk for heart problems. If you’ve been diagnosed with gingivitis or another gum condition, it’s a good idea to schedule a diagnostic arterial scan to make sure problems in your mouth haven’t spread throughout your body. Reach out today for an immediate appointment, to prevent problems with your teeth from spreading to the rest of your body!

Sources: National Center of Biotechnology Information, Ontology Journal

Here’s Why Hot Water for PAD Relief is the Hottest Idea!

Guess what: hot water for PAD relief could be the solution you’re searching for! After all, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition that affects blood flow to your arms and legs. It can be painful, causing cramps and other discomfort, especially when you walk. But that’s not all. Studies reveal that PAD patients also have a higher risk for lung cancer. So addressing symptoms and managing your disease could actually save your life.

As Houston area vein specialists, we often recommend light exercise to help people manage PAD pain. And now, a study published in the AJP Heart and Circulatory Physiology suggests that hot water therapy may be equally effective. Of course, when we’re looking for tools to manage PAD pain, more is always better. Which is why this could be great news for PAD sufferers. Especially if you’re not yet able to exercise!

What Causes PAD?

To understand why hot water therapy helps PAD, we have to explore why you get this disease. PAD sets in when fatty buildup accumulates in your arteries. In turn, that reduces blood flow to your limbs. Then, because of reduced blood flow, you experience muscle pain while walking. (We call this symptom claudication.)  

Many PAD patients are told to manage their pain with supervised exercise. But there’s a catch: the PAD pains often make exercise too painful. That’s why this research out of New Zealand is so exciting: scientists discovered that ongoing heat therapy will improve cardiovascular health in PAD patients. Plus, it manages muscle pain and makes exercise a more likely possibility!

For their study, researchers followed two groups of adults with mild-to-moderate PAD pain. One group attended exercise sessions twice a week, during which they walked for up to 30 minutes on an indoor course and performed up to 60 minutes of circuit exercises. The other group engaged in three to five spa baths a week, submerging up to their shoulders in 102-degree water for 20 to 30 minutes. Before and after each session, researchers charted the participants’ walking ability, blood pressure, heart rate, blood volume, oxygen levels in muscle tissues, peripheral artery blood flow and function, and their overall quality of life.

What they found was exciting: both groups experienced improvements in their walking ability and blood pressure levels. In fact, the results for both groups were basically the same! In presenting their findings, the research team wrote: “Contrary to our hypothesis, there was no difference evident between the effects observed in heat therapy via spa bathing and a supervised exercise program. These findings indicate that heat therapy may be a useful alternative form of cardiovascular conditioning for individuals with PAD.”

Treating PAD in Houston

Now, exercise and hot water simply offer PAD relief. But neither option will reverse the arterial hardening that causes your PAD symptoms. Instead, you’ll need to seek official PAD treatment for long term relief.

In the past, your treatment options would have meant a long hospital stay and painful recovery. Today, we can offer treatment options such as angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy. All of these options are minimally invasive, so you can avoid open surgery. In fact, in many cases, you can go home from the hospital on the same day as your procedure.

Ready to find relief from PAD pain and a lasting solution to your symptoms? Contact our office to request an immediate appointment. From assessing your risk to diagnosing PAD and treating symptoms and your underlying disease, our Houston area specialists are here to do it all!

 

 

Here’s the Deal on Exercise and PAD

Exercise and PAD are an important combination if you want to avoid pain when you move. You see, if you have Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) you may experience painful leg cramps. That’s because, with PAD, your atherosclerosis (hardened or narrowed arteries) limits blood flow to your legs. And this lack of blood flow leads to leg pain, especially when you walk or exercise.

Surprisingly, even though it hurts to move, increasing your movement can help manage and reduce your PAD pain. That’s why physical activity is so important for anyone living with this condition. And it’s why many of you likely had a regular gym routine…until, that is, we started facing the new reality of COVID-19 (a.k.a the novel coronavirus.)

Exercise and PAD

Even though our country is starting to emerge from the coronavirus outbreak, you might have gotten out of your gym routine and started home workouts. That makes a lot of sense, especially if you have compromised health because of underlying conditions like PAD. But, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your exercise routine. It just needs to change a little.

In fact, there’s great reasons to keep exercising, even in these scary times. Research suggests that getting mild to moderate exercise, every day, can boost your immune system and help control your PAD symptoms. Just remember, for both this outbreak and your PAD, “moderate” is the key. Anything too intense could leave you hurting, and reduce your immune response.

Smart Exercises for PAD

Since walking is one of the best workout options for people with PAD, why not simply take your workouts outside? Pick a quiet outdoor spot and stroll away. Bonus: exercising outdoors gets you in nature, which can help calm anxiety—something many of us are grappling with right now.

Go for as long as you can, even working up to a slow jog if you’ve discussed this with your vein specialist. Just keep your distance from any other outdoor workout warriors—six feet is the recommended length. This way, we can work together to prevent the spread of disease, without sacrificing your personal fitness.

Treating PAD to Make Exercise Easier

When you have PAD, walking can trigger pains. (We call this claudication.) But exercise improves PAD symptoms over time. And treating your PAD can actually make it less painful to exercise. In fact, new studies show that treating PAD with angioplasty gets more oxygen to your legs.  After treatment, researchers found that patients experienced less leg fatigue and breathlessness. (Even when they exercised at the peak of their efforts!)

What does that mean for you? If you’re living with PAD, keeping active can help you stay healthy. But you may need more help–and PAD treatment–in order to exercise without pain. Ready to get more active? Reach out to our Houston area arterial specialists for an appointment today. We are happy to offer a PAD assessment, and help you find the relief that you’re seeking!

Sources: Physiology Report

When Should I Treat PAD?

Are you wondering, when should I treat PAD? This read is for you because, if you’re showing signs of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), you may be scared. Chances are you’re experiencing symptoms such as leg cramps when you walk, changes in skin color, cold or numb feet, or even ulcers. Obviously, you want relief from the discomfort. But we understand that you may still feel uncomfortable coming to the office. (That’s why we still offer Telemedicine appointments for many vein conditions.) PAD magnified

Still, you need to understand that PAD poses a very serious risk to your health. In fact, studies show that having PAD is one of the strongest predictors for cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. In other words, it’s not something you ignore, or even delay addressing. Want to learn more? Just keep reading!

When Should I Treat PAD? When Symptoms Develop

It’s important to seek PAD treatment as soon as you notice symptoms. The most common symptom of PAD is leg cramps. They tend to appear when you’re walking or exercising, and improve when you rest.

But other symptoms could mean you have PAD. Another common PAD sign is having cold feet. Now, in some cases, cold feet and hands just mean your blood flow is compromised. Other times, cold feet are a sign that narrowed arteries are restricting blood flow to your extremities. If that’s the case, you need immediate PAD treatment. Otherwise, your risk for cardiovascular disease will increase dramatically.

What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease impacts your heart and blood vessels. It takes many forms, including atherosclerosis (narrowing of your arteries due to the build-up of ‘plaque.’) But, basically, it encompasses four main conditions: strokes, aortic disease, coronary heart disease, and peripheral arterial disease. Cardiovascular disease is very serious. It is still the leading cause of death in the United States—meaning it’s still more life-threatening than the Coronavirus.

Given the serious nature of heart-related conditions, you must stay on top of problems like PAD, even now. Because, according to our study, doing so could mean the difference between progressive heart disease or improved health.

In the new study from Penn State University, researchers explored the connection between your heart health and your blood pressure, diet, and physical activity levels. To reach its findings, the study followed over 74,000 participants for a few years, watching their lifestyle patterns and their cardiovascular health. Here’s what they found.

How Can I Prevent Heart Disease?

angioplasty for PAD

In order to really reduce your risk for cardiovascular problems, participants needed to follow the American Heart Association’s 7 measures for good heart health. They involving maintaining healthy cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels. You must also exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, follow a healthy diet and avoid or quit smoking.

Interestingly, the study discovered that each of these seven measures is equally important. Doing just one is obviously better than nothing; but they have the highest heart-protecting power when they work together.

In other words, if you’re still deciding when to treat your PAD, the answer is: right now. Once atherosclerosis limits blood flow to your legs, that’s already a sign you’ve got cardiovascular problems. And that means your car’s on the road to more serious complications. So, before you get stuck in the traffic jam leading to strokes or heart attacks, take a detour to better health.

Need help finding that off ramp? Request an appointment with our Houston area PAD specialists today. We are here for you in good times and pandemics, so that nothing keeps you from receiving timely PAD treatment.

Sources:

Journal of Cardiology, “Association of Trajectory of Cardiovascular Health Score and Incident Cardiovascular Disease.”

 

 

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