Category: PAD

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.”

 

 

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

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

Move it Monday: 2 Workouts for PAD

Did you know you can boost your health with workouts for PAD? When you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), your arteries narrow. First, that reduces the amount of blood flow to your legs and feet. Then, you may experience painful muscle cramps in your hips, thighs and calves. This pain is typically at its worst when you’re walking, climbing stairs or exercising. And it should improve when you rest. At least at first.

Now, while exercising may make you experience painful cramps, research shows that certain exercises will, in fact, help you manage PAD.

According to one study in the Intervention Journal, supervised treadmill workouts are the most effective form of exercise for people with PAD. Study authors suggest: “exercise sessions should progress up to a target goal of accumulating 30 to 45 minutes of treadmill walking per session” and “exercise should be carried out at an intensity that elicits mild claudication pain within 5 minutes, and moderate to moderately severe claudication within 10 minutes followed by rest until claudication pain subsides.” In other words, the goal of this workout is to work to the point of pain until the pain takes longer to show up. In this way, PAD patients can experience longer periods of walking comfort in their real lives as well.

Optimal Walking Times

When you’re beginning a walking program, you may wonder how much time is enough? Luckily, according to the World Health Organization, it doesn’t have to be that long. In fact, 150 minutes of walking a week gives you so many health benefits!

What does that mean for you, if you’re doing supervised treadmill sessions for PAD? To hit your weekly walking goal, you could do three 45-minute sessions, and one 30 minute session. That way, you’d get all the benefits of walking workouts. And, you’d see progress with PAD symptoms such as claudication.

Not able to hit that 150 minute per week mark? Or struggling to hit 10,000 steps? Don’t worry. Any walking you can fit into your day will improve your health. Of course, it doesn’t have to be on a treadmill either. It can be scattered throughout your day. Or a part of these alternative workouts for PAD.

Alternatives to Treadmill Workouts for PAD

Of course, for some PAD patients, treadmill walking may be too difficult–or simply unappealing. Not to worry: the study suggests other forms of exercise that can also be effective. The authors suggested walking around your neighborhood as one obvious alternative to treadmill workouts. Seated exercise bikes can also help people with PAD, as can workouts that involve resistance training, with your body weight, bands or weighted dumbbells.

While exercise can help improve your ability to walk comfortably with PAD, it cannot cure the condition. Fortunately, in our Houston vein center, we can easily diagnose and treat your PAD. We star with a bedside test, called an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI), which uses ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs to evaluate the circulation in your arms and legs. If this test is abnormal we may order further imaging tests such as Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) or Computed Tomography (CT) to determine the extent of your problem and help us plan your treatment.

Once we determine the extent of your issue, treatment can begin. Our doctors will determine the most appropriate, and least invasive, treatment option that will help you find relief. So if you are experience leg cramps and suspect PAD may have set in, schedule an immediate consult to begin finding relief!

Sources: www.interventionjournal.com, Cardiology Today

 

PAD vs. CVD: This is How You Tell the Difference

PAD vs CVD: these serious conditions have similar symptoms. As a result, when you are experiencing leg pain, it can be difficult to know what’s causing your discomfort. That’s because both Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Chronic Venous Disease (CVD) can make your legs hurt. So, how can you tell the difference between these problems? Just keep reading for our handy guide!

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

PAD is a condition in which your arteries harden because of plaque build-up on the walls. This hardening narrows your arteries, making it more difficult for blood to flow through. And when this happens, you may experience symptoms in your legs, including: pain, numbness, or heaviness. These symptoms typically appear when you are active, and usually resolve when you rest.

PAD is a serious condition; it ups your risk for stroke and other cardiovascular conditions. Luckily, we can treat PAD with lifestyle changes and with minimally invasive interventions. When it comes to lifestyle, supervised exercise programs can help reduce your leg cramps and may also improve blood flow to your extremities. Choosing a healthy diet and breaking up with smoking can also improve PAD symptoms.

Then, when it comes to treating PAD, we’re here to help. Depending on the severity of your condition, we can offer Angioplasty, Stenting or Atherectomy for PAD. All of these options take a different approach to resolving PAD. But they have one thing in common: they allow you to avoid large surgical incisions. And they rarely require you to stay overnight in hospital.

Of course, before treating PAD, you must receive an accurate diagnosis. Which is why you have to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. Including CVD, or chronic venous disease.

What is Chronic Venous Disease?

Chronic Venous Disease is a way of describing conditions that develop when your veins aren’t functioning properly. These include varicose veins, ulcers, and edema. But, sometimes, venous disease shows up in less obvious ways. In fact, many symptoms of CVD are very similar to those associated with PAD. So, the question remains, how can you tell the difference between the two?

Ruling out PAD as a Diagnosis

Because PAD symptoms are so similar to those associated with CVD, it can be difficult to diagnose. But here’s the key factor to note when you talk to your doctor. When you have PAD, you will likely only experience symptoms like leg pain and heaviness when you are active. If you have Venous Disease, resting will likely not improve your symptoms. Also, when you have CVD, visible symptoms like spider veins will usually show up fairly quickly.

Finally, timing can be a major clue as well. With CVD, leg pain tends to show up at the end of a long day. Especially if you spent extended periods on your feet. But, with PAD, pain shows up day or night, and, as we mentioned, is typically tied to movement.

Of course, the easiest and best way to determine the cause of your leg pain is to see your vein specialist. But, clearly identifying your symptoms can help your doctor quickly reach a diagnosis. So, take note of your symptoms and make an appointment with our Houston vein specialists today to assess your PAD risk or book a diagnostic ultrasound to check for CVD.

 

Sources: American Venous Forum, Cardiovascular Institute of the South

PAD Risk for Women and African Americans

Today, we need to talk about PAD risk for women. And for African Americans. Because, both groups may be more vulnerable. After all, PAD (peripheral arterial disease) is a thickening of the arteries that affects blood flow. It’s a form of cardiovascular disease with symptoms such as painful leg cramps. And those cramps mostly show up when walking or exercising, but get better with risk.

Now, we don’t don’t know why, but women and African Americans are nearly twice as likely to be affected by PAD. That’s the case even for women and Black people without other heart issues. Regardless of age. Now, while this statistic is scary on it’s own, we also have to share warnings about things that further increase the PAD risk for  women and African Americans.

PAD Risk for Women

Not every woman has the same PAD risk. Therefore, you have to look at other factors to figure out your own risk for PAD. Women who are over 60, or who have high blood pressure or cholesterol, have higher PAD risk. But, studies show that PAD risks for women without these factors are almost double that for men without heart disease.

And that’s not all. In a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, we learned other concerns about the PAD risk for women. As it turns out, women get diagnosed with PAD later than men. Then, after their PAD diagnosis, women’s health deteriorates faster than men’s. In particular, women with PAD lose their ability to walk at a faster rate than men do. Which is why women should start early screening for PAD to help prevent these concerns. As should African Americans, who have additional worries when it comes to their PAD risk.

Smoking and PAD Risks

According to a different study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, smoking is a known risk factor for PAD. But it increases PAD risk for African Americans more than for other at risk groups. In this study, researchers followed 5300 participants between the ages of 21 and 84. Of those participants, 13% were current smokers and 19% were former smokers.

Researchers found that current smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers to have PAD in their lower extremities. They were also eight times as likely to have calcium buildups in the aorta. And how much you smoked matters too: the more cigarettes a participant had smoked each day, the worse off their arterial health.

In the wake of this study, Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, says: “The findings from this study give us strong evidence of the specific debilitating and life-threatening risks African American smokers face, especially the more they smoke. This type of research can be useful in the development of clear messages targeted to our African American population to underscore the real physical costs of tobacco product use.”

Worried about your risk for PAD? If you are in a vulnerable population, or have any type of heart disease, preventative screening is important. So schedule an appointment with our Houston vein specialists right away. We can help determine your PAD risk level, and start you on preventative care or treatments.

Sources: Journal of the American Heart Association

Heart Month Update: Is PAD in Men and Women Different?

This February, we want to tell you about PAD in men and women. Because its the month we mark American Heart month by raising awareness for heart disease. And PAD is just that.

Remember: peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) occurs when plaque in your arteries slows the flow of blood from your heart to the rest of your body. That ‘plaque’ is mostly composed of cholesterol, calcium, fibrin, and fatty substances. As it collects in your arteries, they narrow and harden (Atherosclerosis). And, as the rest of your body gets limited blood flow, they aren’t able to function optimally.  Some people with PAD will experience symptoms right away. Others won’t know they have a problem in the early stages of this disease. And, even when PAD does cause symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose, since these symptoms often mimic those of other conditions. Of course, there’s one more issue that can make it difficult to treat diagnose PAD: the disease may look different in men than in women. Let’s take a closer look.

What are the Symptoms of PAD?

As we mentioned, you could have PAD and not experience any symptoms. Still, all of the following are considered PAD symptoms. If you experience one or more of these issues, you should talk to your vein specialists right away. Symptoms of PAD include coldness or numbness of the legs and feet, discoloration in the legs, cramping of the hips, thighs, or calf muscles and difficulty in healing from minor wounds of the legs or feet.

You may also notice burning or aching sensations of the feet, poor toenail growth, pain while or soon after walking, slowed hair growth on the legs. In men, you may even see erectile dysfunction,

Now that we’ve reviewed PAD presentations for both genders, let’s explore some of the different ways the disease manifests by gender.

What Does PAD Look Like for Men vs. Women?

Men seem to develop PAD symptoms earlier than women, although that is not always the case. As a result, male PAD patients may see their doctors sooner, allowing for earlier interventions and improved treatment outcomes.

Because women with PAD tend to get later PAD diagnoses, they also appear to develop more simultaneous chronic conditions (comorbidities). Even so, in patients with PAD and diabetes, male patients are more likely to face limb loss due to amputation.

Why is PAD so Dangerous?

Since your arteries are narrowed by PAD, and your blood isn’t flowing as it should, a blood clot can form on the surface of your plaque build-up, creating a potentially life-threatening situation if that clot travels to your lungs. It’s also possible for a piece of plaque to break off and completely cut off your blood flow, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

But wait, there’s still more: because PAD affects blood flow to your limbs, if PAD goes untreated long enough, you may develop gangrene in one or more of your limbs (gangrene is the term for the death of body tissue due to lack of blood flow or serious infection.)[i] And if you develop gangrene, you will face partial or full limb amputation. Clearly, treating PAD is crucial to your long-term health.

How Can I Treat PAD?

We can easily diagnose PAD in our office, using a bedside test called an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI). During this procedure, we use ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs to evaluate the circulation in your arms and legs. If your results aren’t what we want to see, we may order further imaging tests such as Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) or Computed Tomography (CT) to determine the extent of your problem and to help us plan your treatment.

At Texas Endovascular Associates, we are passionate about treating patients who suffer from PAD. We use the most up to date, state of the art equipment available to treat your disease. Now, in the early stages, you can try to boost circulation to your feet. Moving more is a great way to boost blood flow to your feet. That’s why we share weekly exercise tips to help your circulation and vein health.

You can also change your diet to improve vein health and circulation. Be sure to avoid circulation busting culprits like alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. (Or any other items your specialist says to steer clear of.) You could also score some pairs of compression socks, possibly even prescription ones. These now-stylish wardrobe staples really improve blood flow to your feet.

Specialized Care for PAD in Men and Women

Sometimes, though, these at-home efforts won’t be enough. And that’s when our vein specialists will discuss other treatment options. But don’t be scared.

Using minimally invasive procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay, our team provides treatments such as Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy. In that way, we’re often able to spare you from more invasive, open surgeries. In fact, many of our PAD patients get discharged the same day as their procedure, facing minimal recovery time once they get home!

If you’re experiencing PAD symptoms, don’t wait for a consultation. We can even begin your treatment process via Telemedicine, although you will have to come to the office for a final diagnosis. And, if you’ve already been diagnosed with PAD, it is important that you not delay treatment. Doing so can allow your disease to progress, raising your risk of fatal complications.

 

Sources: Mayoclinic.org, MDmag.com

[i] Mayoclinic.org. “Gangrene.”

Why did my feet turn darker than the rest of my skin?

Have you noticed the skin on your feet turn darker than other areas of your skin? Are you concerned that this may be a cause for concern? Well, if you are–you’re right! Darkening skin in your feet can be a sign of several different vein conditions. And all of them should be brought to your doctor’s attention.

Why Feet Turn Darker Changes in skin color, when feet turn darker, is a warning for vein disease

For light skinned individuals, several things can cause your feet to turn darker. In fact, feet that are darker than the rest of your skin can be a side effect of varicose veins. When you have varicose veins (incompetent veins that aren’t functioning properly) blood pools in your legs. And that leads to swelling–both in your veins and possibly in your legs themselves. In some instances, red blood cells may leak outside the varicose veins. These cells carry some red pigment that, over time, may turn black in color. When these cells end up in your feet, they may contribute to the darker skin color.

While an abundance of red blood cells may cause your feet to change color, lack of blood flow may also affect the appearance of your feet. As plaque builds up in our bodies due to fat and cholesterol, a condition known as Peripheral Arterial Diesease (PAD) may set in. PAD occurs when plaque sticks to your arteries, narrowing them significantly and thus affecting blood flow throughout your body. With PAD, less oxygen-rich blood may reach your feet. In contrast to skin darkening related to varicose veins, color changes related to PAD are unlikely to be accompanied by swelling. Additionally, your dark feet are likely to feel cold or even numb.

Smoking and Changes in Skin Color

While internal factors can certainly contribute to changes in the color of your feet, it’s also important to examine problems in your own habits. Smokers especially may notice marked changes in their skin color:

  1. Chemicals in cigarettes speed up the aging process, often leaving smokers with uneven skin tone.
  2. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, restricting oxygen and blood flow to your extremities. This makes smoking especially dangerous for people with vein conditions that already affect blood flow.
  3. Smokers’ wounds take longer to heal. If you smoke, have diabetes and notice your feet turning black, you may be dealing with a dangerous ulcer you haven’t even noticed.

    Cancer, Eczema and Other Potential Culprits

    While all these factors are less common, they could also change the color of your feet. Eczema, when it manifests on your feet can change the color of your skin tone. Kaposi’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that forms in lymph and blood vessels , can also make the skin on your feet appear darker due to the lesions that characterize this condition.

Houston Specialists Treating Feet That Turn Darker

Regardless of the reason for the change, when the skin on your feet turns dramatically darker, it should be cause for more than just cosmetic concern. All of the things that change the color of the feet will need medical attention, so this is one symptom you should never dismiss or ignore.

Now, when you come in for your vein consultation, your specialist will give you treatment options. You’ve got many choices when you want to treat varicose veins. But one choice, sclerotherapy, probably won’t be an option. You see, sclerotherapy is mostly a cosmetic treatment.

Of course, this is a great option if all you want is younger looking legs. It’s very effective when you’re dealing with spider veins, but not when you have varicose veins. And, if your feet turn darker, your disease is likely more serious. So you’ll need greater interventions to improve your health, and your leg and foot appearance.

Ready to make a big step towards reversing the skin damage of varicose veins? Come into our office right away. We’ll conduct a thorough examination and figure out your next best course of action.

Sources: Flux Magazine

Check Out What Happens to Your PAD Risk as you Age

So many things affect your PAD risk. Now, did you know that approximately one in five people over the age of 65 has peripheral arterial disease (PAD)? If that seems to you like a pretty high percentage, you’re right. And there’s a reason for that: as you get older, your risk for PAD increases dramatically. Here’s why.

What is PAD?

PAD is a condition you develop when plaque builds up in your arteries. What is plaque? It’s a substance in your blood that’s made up of fat, cholesterol and other substances. When it sticks to the walls of your arteries, they ‘harden’—that’s called atherosclerosis, and atherosclerosis interferes with your blood’s ability to flow.

When it’s the blood flow to your legs that’s impacted by plaque, we call that condition PAD. And PAD can lead to leg pain and numbness. The hair on your legs may fall out; your skin color may change. You may find that cuts and scrapes take longer to heal; some wounds will no longer heal on their own when you have PAD.

But PAD symptoms aren’t just experienced in your legs. When you have PAD, your risk of heart attack, blood clots and stroke also increases. So does your chances of losing a limb to amputation.

Why Does PAD Develop? stages of PAD

While the exact cause of this condition isn’t know, it seems to begin when the inner layers of your arteries get damaged: this damage could be the result of diet that’s high in fat and cholesterol; a lifestyle that includes smoking; diabetes; and/or high blood pressure. It seems that plaque builds up as your arteries begin to heal.

Unfortunately, PAD can be hard to diagnose. That’s because many people with this condition don’t show any symptoms. Or, they experience symptoms like leg pain, numbness, and cramping, but confuse these problems for normal signs of aging, or for signs of other medical problems. That’s why it’s important to know all the PAD symptoms, which include: sores that don’t heal well, bluish skin color, skin that’s cold to the touch; problems with toenail growth; and, in men, erectile dysfunction.

Other Factors That Increase Risk

A study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health now shows that migraines are a PAD risk factor. While they aren’t sure why, it seems that migraine sufferers and PAD patients both have vascular abnormalities. For that reason, suffering from regular migraines could be considered an early PAD symptom. And, since PAD is often silent until damage is extensive, it’s worth scheduling a diagnostic ultrasound if migraines are a regular problem from you.

Interestingly, the study found additional PAD risk factors. It noted that age, smoking, diabetes and hypertension all increase your risk for PAD. But it also added chronic kidney disease and asthma to the list of conditions that increase your PAD risk. Which means that, if you have any of these conditions, it’s worth checking in with a PAD specialist.

How is PAD Diagnosed?

If your vein specialist suspects you have PAD, you may need one or more of the following tests:

  • An ankle-brachial index (ABI), which determines your blood flow by comparing the blood pressure in your ankle to the pressure in your arm.
  • A Doppler ultrasound, which can detect blood vessel blockages with sound waves
  • A treadmill test, to detect whether leg cramps are associated with activity, and whether they resolve with rest

You may also need additional blood tests to check for related conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol.

Treating PAD

If you are diagnosed with PAD early on, you may be able to control your symptoms with a series of lifestyle changes. At our Houston area vein clinics, we also help PAD patients by using minimally invasive procedures. Some of the treatment options we offer include Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy—the procedure we recommend for you will depend on the location of your blockages and the progression of your disease.

But want to know what they all have in common? These methods will almost always spare you from having major, open surgeries. Because of that fact, your recovery period will be drastically reduced. And you will likely be discharged from hospital on the same day of your procedure.

Before we come up with your treatment plan, however, we need to conduct diagnostic exams. And, in order to do that, we need to see you in the office. So, if you suspect PAD may be behind your leg cramps, or if you have any other PAD symptoms, schedule a consultation right away.

 

Sources: Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Clinical Interventions in Aging

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