Category: PAD

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

Eat This, Not That: Your Healthy Vein Diet

Did you know that a healthy vein diet can improve your circulation? That’s important because your body’s circulatory system stretches over 60,000 miles long. And i veint plays an integral role in maintaining your overall health. Keeping it strong and nourished is vital for managing or avoiding venous diseases—including varicose veins—as well as for living a long and healthy life.

Thankfully, nourishing your veins is easier than you might think. A daily dose of moderate exercise combined with following these three diet tips will ensure that you and your veins are keeping your body’s circulatory system strong.

Your Guide to Healthy Veins

#1: Eat the Rainbow

What do rainbows have to do with your veins? Bioflavonoids, also known as Vitamin P, are the source of vibrant colors in certain fruits and vegetables. More significantly, Vitamin P also helps protect these fruits and veggies against microbes and insects. Studies have proven that a long-term diet rich in bioflavonoids not only improves the appearance of varicose veins, it also strengthens the walls of your blood vessels. And when those blood vessel walls are strong, veins are subject to much less of the stress that leads to and exacerbates venous diseases. When searching for foods high in bioflavonoids, look for brightly colored fruits and veggies like red bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, spinach, and peaches.

#2: Don’t Forget Fiber for a Healthy Vein Diet

You’re probably aware of the digestive benefits of a high-fiber diet. But did you know that fiber can also help strengthen your veins? Soluble fiber, the kind that can’t be digested, stays intact when passing through your intestine and prevents constipation. Frequent constipation puts a large amount of undue stress on your veins. Foods that are high in fiber include oats, buckwheat, peas, apples, and berries. If you have trouble incorporating these foods into your diet, mixing flavorless psyllium powder into your morning glass of tea or water works just as well. Keep in mind that drinking a sufficient amount of water is a necessary accompaniment to a high-fiber diet because it ensures that the fiber will be pushed through your system.

#3: Vitamin C is Key for Healthy Veins

Perhaps the most important dietary tip for healthy veins is to eat foods that are high in Vitamin C. This is because Vitamin C keeps veins toned and has been proven to help improve circulation. Luckily, many foods that are high in Vitamin P are also good sources of Vitamin C. These include fruits like oranges, oranges, tangerines, mangos, grapefruits and papayas. Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and bell peppers are also rich in Vitamin C. When consumed together with vitamin E, Vitamin C’s effects on veins are said to be even more pronounced. For your daily dose of Vitamin E, reach for almonds, peanuts, or avocado.

#4 Consider Cocoa

Like brightly colored fruits and veggies, cocoa is rich in flavonols. In fact, cocoa flavanols, including epicatechin,  can help people with PAD walk more comfortably. More specifically, cocoa can help target therapy directly to your legs (limb perfusion) and improve cell and muscle regeneration in your legs. So grab a cup of hot cocoa, just make sure it’s cocoa powder with a concentration higher than 85%.

But Skip the Sugar for a Healthy Vein Diet

If you want to protect your vein health, watch your sugar consumption. That’s because processed sugar takes a toll on your blood vessels.

In fact, studies show that built up glucose can make your blood vessels contract more than they should. (It’s part of why diabetics have to worry about their blood flow.) Why does sugar in your blood constrict your vessels? Sugar inflames your nerves and blood vessels. That makes it harder for them to work well, so blood can pool, stretching out your veins and stopping them from closing properly. And those issues can translate to varicose veins, and aching, swollen legs and ankles.

When it comes to your veins, you are what you eat!

The key takeaway here is that preventing varicose veins starts with proper nutrition. The best foods for varicose veins are those rich in bioflavonoids, fiber and vitamins. So if you want healthier veins, replace junk food with a fresh and balanced diet rich in fiber and flavonoids. Add in some exercise (for inspiration, check out our Move it Monday series) and you’ll be on the path to stronger, healthier veins.

Sources: Journal of Circulation Research

How Cocoa, Vitamin K and Water 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

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 K2can 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.

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 you Need to Know about Blood Clots

In our Houston vein practice, we know how serious a threat blood clots pose to your health. When we treat patients with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of your legs, we face a medical emergency. That’s because, if a blood clot breaks free and travels to other parts of your body—especially to your lungs—it can threaten your life.

But, many people want to know: why do I get blood clots? And, what are they exactly? Is there anything I can do to prevent them? So, in this post, we will try to answer all of those questions. Just keep reading to learn more.

Why do blood clots form? stages of PAD

When things are working properly, your blood flows freely through your body, delivering oxygen to your organs and flushing out the waste products created by your body’s metabolic processes. But, if you get a cut, scrape or injury, blood in your arteries and veins (veins return blood from the body to the heart; arteries transport blood away from your heart) will clot to block your blood vessels and stop you from bleeding out.

But, when your arteries or veins get blocked when you aren’t injured, you need medical intervention. Otherwise, you can face complications such as strokes, heart attacks, organ damage and even limb loss. In certain occasions, as we mentioned earlier, blood clots can kill you by travelling to your lungs (pulmonary embolism), interfering with your ability to breathe.

Blood clots form in blood vessels—either your deep veins or your arteries. Typically, they form after your blood vessels get damaged, triggering a reaction in your body. This reaction involves a mix of platelets and clotting factor proteins.

How Do Blood Clots Cause Health Problems?

As we mentioned, problematic blood clots form when the connection between platelets and clotting factor proteins goes awry. Platelets are objects in your blood that group together and stick to the walls of your blood vessels when needed.

Clotting factors are proteins in the blood that trigger a reaction to makes platelets and red blood cells stick together. Typically, other proteins in your body make that reaction stop, so your clot only reaches the size needed to prevent excess bleeding.  But when damage to your blood vessels impacts that reaction, clots may grow unchecked, leaving you at risk for clotting conditions like DVT.

Arterial clots and DVT

We can’t always predict who will be affected by blood clots, or when those clots will form. But we do know certain factors that can increase your risk for clots:

·         Prolonged immobility, as with long airplane flights

·         Arm or leg surgery

·         Casting a broken bone

·         Trauma

·         Smoking

·         Being pregnant

·         Diabetes

·         Obesity

·         High blood pressure

·         High cholesterol

·         Age

·         A family history of peripheral artery disease (PAD), stroke or heart disease or stroke.

Remember, PAD develops when you have atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, a type of arteriosclerosis, is a condition where plaque builds up in your arteries. It specifically means that plaque built up on the inner most wall of your artery. Once that happens, your arteries narrow and ‘harden.’ In turn, this reduces blood flow to certain parts of your body. And it also increases your risk of blood getting ‘stuck,’ and forming clots.

New research has revealed an additional risk factor for blood clots, and it’s one that you unfortunately can’t control. In fact, your blood type can contribute to that risk, according to a study published in the Journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 

The research, which began in 2017, found that people with types A or B blood had a combined 8% higher risk of heart attack, and a 10% increased risk of heart failure, as compared to people with type O blood. So, knowing your blood type could help you understand your risk for developing a blood clot.

 

Diagnosing and Treating Blood Clots

The best way to treat blood clots is to prevent their formation. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying mobile even on long trips, and using compression therapy can all help protect you from DVT. Even if you develop a DVT, compression therapy—especially within 24 hours of the clot’s formation—can help manage your risk of further complications.

So, as with many other vein and arterial conditions, timeliness is key when it comes to treating blood clots. The sooner you see a vein specialist, the better the outcome you will likely enjoy. So if you have any symptoms of or risks for blood clots, schedule an appointment with your Houston vein specialists today!

 

Sources: Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology JournalAmerican Heart Association

 

6 PAD Symptoms to Know and Watch For

September is PAD Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to teach you about identifying PAD symptoms. First, a definition: Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a disease. It develops when arteries in your lower legs narrow.

Because many PAD symptoms mimic those of other conditions, this disease is often hard to diagnose. About 20 million Americans have this disease. But up to 200,000 of those people don’t know it. So, in order to prevent a missed diagnosis, we need you to know and identify PAD symptoms. If you experience any of these problems, it’s important to see your Houston vein specialist right away.

Painful Symptoms of PAD

Muscle pain is one of several symptoms of PAD

  1. Pain in Your Legs After Walking or Exercise. One of the most common symptoms of PAD, this pain or cramping occurs with movement because your lower extremities don’t get enough oxygen to support the increased activity.  Most often, PAD sufferers will experience this pain in their calf muscles, but it may manifest anywhere in the lower legs. Pain will typically not resolve until the PAD sufferer stops all physical activity.
  2. Wounds, Sores or Ulcers. This second symptom is also caused by a lack of oxygen reaching your lower limbs. When you cut yourself, and you don’t have PAD, proper circulation and blood flow will help your injury heal quickly. When you have PAD, however, even a small scrape can remain open and unhealed as the plaque in their arteries blocks blood flow to the wound. This symptom must be addressed immediately: left unchecked, a wound can lead to serious infection and even amputation.

    Physical PAD Warning Signs

  3. Skin Changes on Your Legs. Once again, poor circulation is behind this PAD symptom. Some of the physical changes that occur with PAD include skin that appears to be shiny, loss of leg and/or toe hair, and a blue-ish tinge to your skin. Your lower legs, especially your toes, may also feel cold, even when your feet are covered and should otherwise feel toasty.
  4. Muscle, Not Joint, Pain. We’ve already noted that leg pain and cramps are a symptom of PAD, but it’s important to note where that pain is located. Many people think of leg pain as a normal part of aging, and it CAN be–when that pain is happening in your joints. When it’s located in your muscles, however, that is a sign that something beyond normal aches and pains is going on.
  5. Dead tissue. Most people will identify their PAD before reaching this point, but if you have gangrenous or dead tissue on your toes, feet or legs and you haven’t been checked for PAD, get a diagnostic vein scan ASAP.

    Emotional PAD Symptoms

  6. Depression. Especially for women, your depression symptoms may develop or worsen with PAD. So if you have the symptoms we described above, and depression, it’s time for a PAD check.

If there’s one thing we need you to remember, it’s this: PAD is a progressive disease. If you ignore early warning signs, your symptoms of PAD will get worse. Don’t wait until you’re in pain. Call our Houston area clinics today and schedule an immediate PAD consultation!

 

Sources: Mayoclinic.org , Healio Cardiology 

3 Signs Your Leg Pain is Actually PAD

Peripheral Arterial Disease is a tricky condition. It’s symptoms look like many other vein health problems. Meaning you often wait to get your diagnosis. Take a classic symptom like tired, heavy legs, for example. At some point, everyone’s legs get tired. If you’ve walked a lot during the day, had a hard work out, or just been stuck on your feet, you may get muscle cramps or leg fatigue. And that would be perfectly normal. Sometimes, however, that discomfort in your legs could be something more serious: peripheral arterial disease, a condition in which plaque narrows your arteries, limiting blood flow to your lower extremities. Here’s how you can tell when your leg pain is a cause for concern. And a roundup of other warning signs and symptoms that could indicate trouble with your blood flow.

Three PAD Warning Signs to Watch For

PAD-affected arteries before, during and after minimally invasive treatments
  1. The leg pain is constant. Normal leg pain only comes on once in a while. But if your legs hurt or you feel a burning sensation in your legs or rear end every time you walk or climb the stairs, it could be PAD. This is especially true if your discomfort shows up with movement and resolves with rest. That’s a likely sign of a problem, since your limited blood flow makes it painful to move, because that movement needs oxygenated blood, and your body can’t supply it.
  2. Your wounds don’t heal. Because PAD limits blood flow to your lower legs, it reduces the healing time for any cuts or injuries. So even a little scratch could become a major health challenge, since oxygen rich blood doesn’t arrive to help with healing. If you have leg pain and an ulcer, that’s a likely sign that you’ve got PAD.
  3. Your lifestyle puts you at risk. Smokers, people with diabetes, or individuals with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are at higher risk of developing PAD. If you have these risk factors and experience regular leg pain, be sure to get checked for PAD. At our Houston-area vein clinics, we can help you get an accurate diagnosis so we can begin the healing process.

Treating Peripheral Arterial Disease in Houston

The above symptoms aren’t all you need to watch out for. Other signs of PAD include cold, numb legs and feet; changes in your skin color; poor toenail growth; changes in your leg-hair growth; and even erectile dysfunction in men.

We can diagnose PAD in our office 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.

PAD is a serious medical condition, but help is readily available, often without surgery. Using minimally invasive procedures, our Houston area vein specialists can help open up your arteries and restore blood flow to your lower extremities. But before we can help, you need an accurate diagnosis, so watch for warning signs and see your doctor right away if you have any cause for concern.

 

Sources: American College of Surgeons, galesburg.com

The Power of Everyday Stretching and PAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blood Flow, Stretching and PAD Study

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

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

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

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

Preventing and Treating PAD

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sources: MIT.edu, The Journal of Physiology

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