Category: PAD

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

What is Critical Limb Ischemia?

If you have PAD, you should understand the American Heart Association’s guidelines for diagnosing and treating CLI (critical limb ischemia.) But in order to understand the guidelines, we must first understand the condition itself.

What is Critical Limb Ischemia?

CLI is a severe blockage in the arteries of your lower extremities. It heartbeat icondramatically reduces blood flow to your lower limbs, making it a serious form of PAD (peripheral arterial disease). PAD and CLI are both caused by a buildup of plaque in your arteries. And that buildup leads to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of your arteries.

CLI is a painful, chronic condition. It makes your feet or toes hurt, even when you’re resting. Advanced CLI may cause you to develop ulcers (sores that won’t heal) on your legs or feet. Some CLI patients even need amputations.

Symptoms of Critical Limb Ischemia

The best known CLI symptom is ischemic rest pain. This refers to the discomfort you feel in your legs and feet hurt when you stop moving. Ulcers on your feet and legs are also common. Other symptoms include pain or numbness in your feet. You may also notice shiny, dry and smooth skin on your legs or feet, as well as thickened toenails. A vein specialist may notice you’ve lost or lowered the pulse in your legs or feet. And, in severe cases, you may see gangrene (dry, black skin) on your legs or feet. 

Diagnosing and Treating CLI

The American Heart Association (AHA) emphasized the importance of diagnosing and treating CLI.

“Timely diagnosis and treatment is likely to preserve limb viability and improve quality of life,” Mark A. Creager, MD, past AHA president and director, explained to theheart.org. Reasons for a Vein Evaluation

Why? CLI affects an estimated 12 million adults in the United States, but diagnosing and managing the condition can be “challenging.” Moreover, strategies for perfusion assessment (testing your cardiovascular system’s ability to supply your tissue with enough blood flow) “remain limited,” according to Dr. Sanjay Misra of the Mayo Clinic. And evaluating limb perfusion is crucial because it speeds up the CLI diagnosis and prevents many invasive procedures.

What are the Latest CLI Guidelines?

Currently, the guidelines for diagnosing CLI tell physicians to look for ischemic rest pain, an ulcer, or the presence of gangrene for at least 2 weeks. Those symptoms, in combination with reduced blood flow (hypoperfusion) as measured by one of several tests (ankle-brachial index (ABI), ankle pressure, toe-brachial index (TBI), toe systolic pressure, transcutaneous oximetry (TcPo2), or skin perfusion pressure (SPP)) would indicate that a person has developed CLI.

Until now, vein specialists were been most likely to use the ankle-brachial index (ABI) to detect CLI. But under the new guidelines, the American Heart Association suggests that checking toe pressure will deliver a more accurate diagnosis.

Interestingly, the AHA also promotes experimental technologies for checking blood flow in your lower extremities, including a contrast-enhanced ultrasound like the kind we can provide in our Houston area vein clinics.

Regarding this kind of scan, the statement says: “New technologies offer potential opportunities to improve the precision and quality of CLI management,” helping detect and treat CLI at an earlier stage and reducing the number of amputations associated with this condition.

Sources: American Heart Association, health.ucdavis.edu

What Should I do about Claudication?

We use the word claudication to describe muscle pain, cramps and a heavy, tired feeling in your legs. Soon after symptoms first appear, your  pain may radiate to your hips, feet or buttocks. But this pain isn’t random: it usually appears when you move and disappears with rest. Also, it’s usually a result of reduced blood flow to your lower limbs. For this reason, many patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) experience claudication.

 

How Does Claudication Progress?

Without treating the underlying cause of your claudication, your symptoms and flare ups will likely get worse over time. In the early stages of claudication, your symptoms may also include aching,       burning and heaviness. But the way you experience that pain will change over time.

At first, claudication causes a dull, aching pain in the lower calf. The initial pain or sensation can also travel to, or develop in, other muscle groups, such as your thigh, buttocks, hip or feet.

Now, these symptoms usually appear with muscle movement, like walking or exercise. So it’s easy to brush them off as the sign of pushing yourself too hard. This is especially true since, thankfully, they usually  resolve with a few minutes of rest. If, however, people continue exercising through the pain of claudication, they may experience a number of unpleasant symptoms. These include numbness, severe cramps, difficulty walking, cold skin and even soft tissue damage.

Usually, claudication only affects one leg; if it impacts both, symptoms are usually worse in one leg than the other. Over time, these symptoms typically become more severe. The only way to improve your condition is to treat the underlying cause.

Treating Claudication and PAD

At Texas Endovascular, treating PAD with state of the art, minimally invasive procedures. Most of our treatments— which include Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy–don’t require an overnight hospital stay. Using these methods, we prevent the need for surgery in most cases, often allowing our patients to go home the same day as their procedure.

During your procedure, one of our Houston area vein specialists will insert a small IV and wire through your groin,  gaining access to a blood vessel. From there, we use imaging to guide that wire into a position where it can impact your affected artery. Depending on the progression of your PAD, we will use a balloon to widen the blood vessel (angioplasty) or a stent to hold it open; both options will increase blood flow to your lower extremities, and should relieve your claudication symptoms.

Sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine

 

Here’s Why the Pandemic is Extra Risky for PAD Patients

We’re all stressed right now. Because, whether you’ve lost your job, are working on the front lines, or are adjusting to a new work-from-home setup, work stress is constant. That’s not good for anyone. But, according to a new evidence published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, it’s especially problematic for people with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Let’s take a closer look at these results. Then, we’ll determine what your next steps should be if you’re living with or at risk for PAD.

What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

First, a review: PAD is a cardiovascular problem. It develops when cholesterol or plaque (fatty substances in your blood) build up in your blood vessels, preventing blood flow. Typically, we see this accumulation in your legs, which contain some of the vessels farthest away from your heart—at the periphery of your body, hence the name.

Initially, PAD can be hard to diagnose, since many symptoms are subtle, or mimic other complications. Still, if you experience changes in your skin color, hair loss on your legs and, most especially, leg pain when you walk, you may have PAD.

Even at the best of times, PAD is a serious condition. Left untreated, it elevates your risk of heart attack and/or stroke. So, treatment is always crucial. But, according to these new study results, treating your PAD at this moment is even more important. Why? Researchers discovered that PAD patients who experience work-related stress are more likely to require hospitalization.

Why Stress Worsens PAD Symptoms

For the purposes of this new study, work-related stress encompasses both psychological and social pressure. Typically, this stress results from a loss of personal control, combined with high on-the-job expectations. And let’s face it: many of us are dealing with both of these issues during this period of quarantine and COVID-19.

What happens when PAD patients get stressed on the job? After examining records from 139,000 men and women between the ages of 39 to 49 years, researchers discovered that 667 of the participants entered the hospital  because of PAD complications.

And, after factoring in other health issues and lifestyle choices, the researchers discovered work-related stress increased the risk of PAD-related hospitalization by 1.4 times.  Lead study author Katriina Heikkilä explains, “Our findings suggest that the work-related stress could be a risk factor for peripheral arterial disease in a similar way as it is for heart disease and stroke.“

While the exact connection is unknown, stress is associated with an increase in inflammation and blood sugar levels. As such, it could contribute to PAD complications. In a big way: 25% of the patients who were hospitalized for the first time, reported work related stress when the study began.

Maintaining Your Health During Stressful Times

What does all of this mean for you, as a PAD patient? Well, first of all, try to manage your stress levels: prioritize movement, mindfulness and daily self-care. But, in times like these, stress may keep on coming. Still, that, doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself from hospitalization. What, then, is the key to your safety? Staying on top of your PAD treatment protocol, and getting regular check-ins with your arterial specialist. Don’t feel comfortable coming into our office? No problem. In recognition of the current pandemic, we are proud to offer Telemedicine appointments for PAD patients. So stay safe, and stay well, with your Houston PAD specialists.

Sources: Journal of the American Heart Association

Right Now, We Can Still Diagnose Your Vein Disease!

Our health system is inundated with COVID-19 patients, so you want to avoid hospitals if possible. As such, it’s important to stick with preventative health care. Being proactive about your vein health can help you avoid a medical emergency at this trying time.

So, if your legs are tired, heavy or cramping, your may be 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, leaking 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 vein disease?

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.

 

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.

This is How to Reduce PAD Symptoms 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.)

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 a vein specialist in your area right away.

Sources: BelMarraHealth.com, WebMD

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