Category: Vein Disease

Here’s What you Need to Know about Bloodclots

In our Houston vein practice, we know how serious a threat bloodclots 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 bloodclots 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. On certain occasions, as we mentioned earlier, blood clots can kill you by traveling 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.

Bloodclots Risk Factors

Anyone can develop a clot. But certain issues raise your risk. About 8% of the population experiences hypercoagulation, a condition that makes your blood clot more often. But for those of us who don’t face this concern, pregnancy, heart disease and cancer could all increase your risk.

Still, even your lifestyle could be an issue. Being stuck in bed for extended periods makes bloodclots more likely to form. Any damage to your blood vessel walls, either due to injury or surgery, could also spell trouble. Finally, while research is ongoing, prior COVID infection seems to trigger an inflammatory response that could make your blood more likely to clot.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

Since a blood clot in your legs can break free and travel to your lungs, it’s very important to recognize the early warning signs. With a clot, you may notice a hard lump in your leg, which could also display inflammation. When the affected vein is near your surface.

When your surface veins are impacted, some people describe clots as feeling like thin sausages. And, in many cases, the skin on top of that bulge appears red in color. If you notice any of these signs, seek immediate medical attention. Otherwise, you’re at risk for serious medical complications and health concerns.

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
  • Having thick blood (hypercoagulability.) Often, you only discover your blood is thick after developing a clood clot. But in some cases, hypercoagulability causes chest pain, dizziness, slurred speech and shortness of breath. Usually, this condition is a symptom of other diseases, including vascular diseases suches as polycythemia.
  •  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.

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

 

Your Cankles Could Be Hiding Lymphedema!

Lymphedema is a serious health problem. But many people don’t know that. Instead, they might think they just have cankles. Now, for those of you who aren’t aware, cankles is a term used to describe wide or swollen ankles–the swelling eliminates a distinction between your calves and ankles (hence the name.) Keep in mind, “cankles” is a slang — it isn’t a term you’ll hear doctors using. But it could be describing several medical conditions, so it’s worth paying attention to your cankles.

Of course, sometimes, cankles could just be a sign that your calf muscles aren’t well-defined. It may even be the result of extra fat tissue in the are. But often, cankles develop because you have fluid build up in your lower leg.

Sometimes, people will also complain about elephant legs. This is another sign of lymphedema, but it just means the swelling extends beyond your ankle. (It’s also a sign that you’ve entered the last, and most dangerous, stage of lymphedema.) While many women, and some men, complain about the way their cankles or legs look, it turns out that they could both be a sign of more serious health issues.

What Causes My Ankles to Swell?

Many pregnant women develop swollen ankles. Usually, this cankle cause clears up once you deliver your baby, so you may not need to seek treatment. Individuals with liver or kidney disease may also develop ankle swelling. So, if you have a family history of either disease, mention your swollen ankles right away to your doctor.

Additionally, cankles could be a sign of excess fat in your ankles, and not of swelling. If you are a woman and you’re seeing excess ankle fat, you might have lipedema. This hormonal condition, affecting up to 11% of women, causes extra fat to build up beneath the skin on your legs. It can be painful and serious, and you should review your symptoms with your doctor.

You should discuss the possibility of any of these conditions with your doctor. But, today, we’re going to talk about circulation and cankles. Because swollen, puffy ankles are symptoms of several potentially serious vein conditions. For that reason, you should see your doctor at the first signs of lymphedema. That’s the only way to prevent serious complications.

Venous disease/insufficiency

When your veins struggle to send blood back from your extremities to your heart, it’s known as venous insufficiency. In this condition, the blood that doesn’t flow properly can pool in your leg veins. Varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis (DVT, a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of your legs) are also warning signs of Venous Insufficiency.

Symptoms of VI include:

  • Swelling of the legs or ankles
  • Painful,  heavy legs
  • Thicker skin on the legs and ankles
  • Color changes in the skin around your ankles

Edema

Swelling in the legs (edema) can occur when fluid becomes trapped in the soft tissues of the leg, typically because of malfunctioning valves in your veins. When the valves in your leg veins begin to weaken, or fail, the blood can no longer be pumped out of the legs properly. This causes fluid and blood to become trapped there and, as the fluid begins to build up, the leg may begin to swell. The term for the buildup of fluid which leads to swelling in the body is edema.

Lymphedema vs Lipedema

Lymphedema is a form of chronic edema that occurs when the body’s lymphatic system does not function properly. It is not the same as edema caused by vein disease, although vein disease can eventually progress into a combined venous/lymphatic disorder. As with swelling in the lower legs, lymphedema requires the attention of a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Other signs of lymphedema include progressive symptoms. In the later stages of disease, you may also not some “pillow” swelling in your foot. If it’s caused by Lymphedema, it won’t go away after sleeping. Another sign is called Stemmer’s symptom. This is when you can’t fold the skin on the back of your second toe. Also, your skin will likely appear pale. And the swelling will reach the middle of your lower leg, but won’t hit your thigh. (This is when we start to hear about model heather has lipedemaelephant legs.) Finally, you may develop fibrosis, when the skin on your leg becomes thicker and hardens.

Now, lipedema is a different condition that also may increase your ankle size, but this is due to fat buildup, not fluid retention. Plus, if lipedema is your concern, you’ll likely have fat deposits in areas other than your ankles. In fact, lipedema usually strikes your calves, thighs and buttocks. And, unlike lymphedema, this condition typically impacts women, not men.

Recognizing Lipedema

With this condition, excess fat builds up on the lower half of your body, but there’s no obvious cause for this build-up. While many women with lipedema are overweight, obesity doesn’t seem to cause this fat build up. Instead, the condition seems linked to hormones, since most women develop symptoms at times of major hormonal shifts. (Think puberty, pregnancy and/or menopause.)

Lipedema Types

This condition comes in several different forms. With Type I lipedema, most of your fat covers your buttocks and pelvis, staying concentrated between your navel and hips. With Type II, those buildups develop between your pelvis and knees.

Do you have fat concentrations that run from your pelvis to your ankles? That’s a sign of Type III, especially if you notice a distinct fat cut-off right at your ankles. Now, with Type IV, the deposits are distributed on your upper body, from your shoulders to your wrists. But with Type V, most of your buildups hang out on your calves.

Now, it’s difficult to treat lipidemia. So many women, including body positivity role model Heather Johnson, choose to embrace their larger lower bodies. Still, lipidema can cause pain, and the build-up of lymphatic fluid. (That condition is called secondary lymphedema.) And if that happens, treatment may be necessary.

How and When to Treat Your Cankles swollen, painful legs and ankles could be lymphedemaolding knee

While some forms of cankles are just the result of fatty buildups in your bodies, when they are a sign of a vein problem, treating the underlying issue may also improve the look of your lower legs. When it comes to purely cosmetic treatments, that is a personal choice, but when treating your cankles could actually save your veins from further damage, it is always a good idea!

Noticed swelling in your ankles? Don’t wait to see if it goes away on it’s own, or your symptoms may progress! Instead, schedule an appointment with your Houston vein specialists right away. We can diagnose the cause of your cankles. And get you on the path to proper healing.

 

Sources: Lymphatic Network

 

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.

Some nuts and seeds are also packed with fiber. And they’ll offer additional support thanks to their B3 and niacin content, both of which fight inflammation. Top choices include hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds.

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

Must Know Facts about Aging and Your Veins

Want to hear a scary statistic about aging and your veins? By the time they turn 60, up to 20% of Americans develop peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This condition affects blood flow to your lower limbs. Want some more age-related statistics? Right when they turn 40, about 20% of American men and 40% of American women have some sort of problem with their leg veins. So, what do these numbers add up to?

The older you get, the more likely you are to develop some type of vein or arterial disease. Which means you really need to understand the variety of conditions that can affect your vein, and start exploring your treatment options—before problems start developing!

But it doesn’t mean you’re safe from complications if you’re younger. Because, as we’ll see in this post, trouble can strike at any age. Let’s take a closer look.

Varicose Vein Risk by Age

Most people develop varicose veins later in life. But the underlying conditions that cause these veins to develop? They can start developing much earlier. So if you intervene in time, you may prevent those bulging, twisted veins from ever becoming visible.

Here’s the story. When working properly, your veins’ one-way valves help blood fight gravity to return to your heart. But if they malfunction, pressure increases in your veins, and you may develop varicose veins, along with other symptoms. Now, these changes take time to develop, which is why many people don’t notice varicose veins in their 20s or 30s.

But life changes such as pregnancy, or even staying home too much and gaining weight during the pandemic, could speed up the process of damage and malfunction. So people may start noticing these bulging veins at younger ages. Still, other, more serious forms of vascular disease are mostly tied to aging and your veins.

What causes PAD and vein disease? 

PAD is most often a result of atherosclerosis, a slow process during which a fatty material (plaque) builds up in your arteries, reducing blood flow. Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all increase your PAD risk, but so does age. In fact, passing the 50 year mark, and having a family history of PAD, heart disease or stroke, are two key risk factors for this dangerous condition.

Aging and Your Veins: PAD Symptoms

PAD progresses slowly for some people. And this condition also shares similar symptoms with many other conditions, making it harder to diagnose. Still, there are classic PAD symptoms. These include:

Muscle pain, leg cramps, or heaviness when walking (this typically resolves after a few minutes of rest.)

·        Calf pain

·        Numbness or weakness

·        Pain in your buttocks

·        Cold legs and feet

·        Leg and/or foot ulcers

·        Hair loss or slower hair growth

What is CVI and What are its Symptoms?

Now, let’s take a look at chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This condition occurs when the valves of your leg veins stop working well, making it harder for blood to flow up to your heart. Instead, that blood can pool up in your legs, leaving you with symptoms like bulging, noticeable varicose veins.

Other symptoms include:

·        Sore, tired, restless and/or heavy legs

·        Pain or fatigue

·        Blood clots, especially Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

·        Leg, foot or ankle swelling (edema)

·        Hard, thickened skin

·        Changes in skin color

 

While PAD and CVI can strike anyone, at any time, the older you are, the higher your risk of developing either condition. So, if you’ve noticed a change in the way your legs feel, and your 40th birthday has passed, it’s a good idea to schedule a diagnostic ultrasound to rule out or diagnose a developing vein or arterial condition.

Sources: Circulation Journal

Three Reasons Why Your Veins Become Visible, & When to Worry

Ugh, those visible veins that change your leg appearance! We all want to know that our veins are healthy and working properly…but that doesn’t mean we want to see them through our skin! Unfortunately, several factors make it more likely for your veins to become visible. First, we’ll go over your risk factors and then—because we’re Houston-based vein specialists, we’ll help you figure out how to treat visible, bulging veins!

1.       Your Age Affects your Veins.

The older you get, the more visible your veins become. Why? As you age, your skin becomes thinner and, at the same time, your veins weaken, getting stretched out and collecting more pooled blood. In combination, these two elements contribute to larger veins that are easily visible through your skin.

 

2.       Your body weight makes visible veins.

If you are underweight, or have very little body fat, your veins will appear closer to the surface of your skin and become more visible. At the same time, if you’re overweight, you put more pressure on your legs. In turn, this can make it harder to get blood back up to your heart as it flows against gravity. This means pooling blood can stretch your veins and change their color, making them darker. At that point, you would also notice visible veins, which are a sign of our next contributing factor…

 

3.       Vein disease and Visible Veins

Even without aging, vein disease can cause varicose veins to develop, and these are more visible than veins that work properly. You see varicose veins develop when valves, typically in your leg veins, stop working properly. This keeps blood from flowing out of your legs, causing it to pool in your veins. As the blood accumulates, your veins darken and bulge, becoming more visible.  You may also develop symptoms such as swelling, cramps or leg pain, itching and heaviness in your legs.

Now, keep in mind: Varicose veins affect up to 35% of Americans. Many people think they can ignore the veins, dismissing them as merely unsightly, but not dangerous. But here’s the thing: while the veins themselves don’t cause serious medical issues, their appearance could be a sign of bigger problems brewing beneath the surface of your skin.

sclerotherapy for spider veins
Learn more about spider veins to prevent long-term complications!

Valves and Veins

Veins are blood vessels that return blood back to your heart from other parts of your body. Your veins contain a series of valves that are supposed to open and close easily, helping your body fight gravity to push blood up towards the heart.

Sometimes, those valves don’t work well, and the blood travel suffers—flowing backwards or pooling in your legs and feet. When that condition sets in, you are experiencing something called venous insufficiency. As it turns out, varicose veins can actually be a symptom of venous insufficiency: the pooling blood is what causes your veins to bulge, as they become overwhelmed.

Signs of A Problem

Varicose veins are a visible symptom of venous insufficiency, which is why they are helpful indicators. Other symptoms of this condition include chronic leg swelling, especially swelling that gets worse throughout the day; heavy legs; and, surprisingly, pelvic pain.

Why is it important to identify and treat venous insuffiency? The answer is this: with this condition, varicose veins are just the tip of the iceberg. In severe cases, VI can cause you to develop a deep vein thrombosis ( a clot that forms in the veins deep in your legs.) A DVT is a medical emergency, because if it breaks loose from your leg veins, it could travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and threaten your life.

 

Treating Your Varicose Veins

Many times, our Houston vein specialists are able to diagnose VI because a patient seeks treatment for varicose veins.

Thankfully, many varicose veins can be treated quickly, with minimally invasive procedures. And the opportunity to diagnose a bigger, potentially life-threatening problem? Worth every moment of a so-called cosmetic consultation!

Sources: Women Fitness Magazine

These Three Things Raise Women’s Blood Clot Risk

Women have a higher blood clot risk than men. Especially for one dangerous clotting condition: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). This develops when you form a blood clot in the deep veins of your legs. As it circulates, there’s a risk that the blood clot will break free. Then, it could lodge in your lungs (pulmonary embolism), causing a potentially fatal complication. hormonal birth control blood clot risk

All women have an elevated risk. And should look out for warning signs such as tingling or numbness in your hands. And your risk for DVT may be increased if you take a hormonal birth control pill or IUD. Because some of the hormones in your birth control makes your blood more likely to clot, you may prefer a on-hormonal option if you have other risk factors. These include condoms or a copper IUD.

Birth control that contains estrogen is more likely to make your blood clot. For that reason, newer forms of birth control combine forms of progestin and estradiol, leaving out estrogen to improve the safety profile. If you prefer a hormonal birth control, but are worried about clotting, you may want to discuss options such as Yasmine or Mircette with your healthcare provider.

Pregnancy and Clotting

You may think that stopping birth control to conceive eliminates your clot risk. But pregnant women are in even greater danger if they develop blood clots. That’s because, when pregnant women get clots in the deep veins of their legs, groin or arms, the condition is called Venous Thromboembolism (VTE), not DVT.

Now, the condition’s name is different. But the danger to your lungs is the same. And that’s why VTE during pregnancy and post-partum is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths. (Even worse? The CDC says that 33% of people who develop VTE will experience another clot within 10 years. So prevention is very important.)

What We Know About Blood Clot Risk and VTE Varicose Veins & Pregnancy: What You Need to Do (and Why You Shouldn’t Worry)

Until recently, only a few VTE risk factors had been identified. During pregnancy these included:

  • A previous episode of VTE
  • A relative with a previous VTE episode
  • Advanced maternal age
  • Smoking
  • High BMIs
  • In-vitro fertilization

For post-partum VTEs, risk factors include:

  • Emergency c-sections
  • Still births
  • Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • Varicose veins 
  • Post-partum infection

New VTE Risk Factors Identified

Now, thanks to a study in Japan, two new VTE risk factors have been identified: Endometriosis and recurring miscarriages.  To reach these findings, the study authors reviwed data from 103,070 pregnant Japanese women, collected between January 2011 and March 2014. Participants completed questionnaires in their first, second and/or third trimester, and their medical records were then transcribed immediately after delivery and one month post-partum.

First, researchers found that the frequency of VTE in the Japanese population was 7.5 per 10,000 pregnancies during both the pregnancy and post-partum period.

After identifying previous known risk factors, and adjusting for their presence, researchers were able to discover two new predictors for VTE: the presence of endometriosis and recurrent pregnancy loss. Women with endometriosis were 2.7 times more likely to develop VTE; women with multiple miscarriages had a risk factor that was 6.13 times higher.

In the wake of this information, we now know that more research will be necessary to keep people safe. And it should be coming soon. Just recently, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institue announced it will launch clinical trials in 2023 to determine whether certain body scans can detect blood clots right as they form. But, until then, it’s important to understand your risk. And address it with your doctor.

Pregnancy with VTE Risk Factors

Knowing your risk for VTE is important, since pregnant women with one or more predictors may need to take precautionary measures. In fact, VTE is such a dangerous complication, at-risk pregnant women may need to take anti-coagulants (with the supervision of and recommendation from their physicians.) To learn more about managing VTE and other venous conditions, schedule a consultation with our Houston vein specialists.

Sources:  The Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis

5 Do-Anywhere Workouts for Veins

Are there workouts for veins that can prevent vein disease? Well, there are so many reasons why you develop varicose and spider veins. In fact, your genes may be upping your risk!  Even so, you can be proactive about prevention. And part of those changes include exercising more.

Now, even a few simple lifestyle changes go a long way towards preventing these veins from developing. Whether you are starting to see the early signs of varicose or spider veins, or you hope to prevent them altogether, certain workouts can promote healthy veins. Why not make these last weeks of 2021 your time to sweat some vein-preventing workouts (and show off those healthy legs with pride!) We’ve even tapped a top fitness trainer for work-out-at-home safety tips, in case you’re too busy to get to the gym!

Walking workouts for veins

Taking a walk or hike is one of the best ways to give your legs a workout and improve circulation in your legs. Walking is a great low-impact exercise that can strengthen your calf muscles and minimize spider or varicose veins.

Try talking a stroll through your neighborhood, find a nearby greenway to walk on, or plan a hike. If you’re wanting a more rigorous workout, a run will also improve circulation and get more blood returning to your heart, which can help prevent varicose veins.

Ride your bike to smoother legs

workouts to prevent veins

Riding a bike is another exercise that works out your legs and promotes healthy veins. Bonus? It doesn’t put too much stress on your joints, and as you pedal, your calf muscles flex, giving your veins a rest and helping circulate blood back to the heart.

You can ride a stationary bike or a regular bike. Don’t have access to either? No problem! You can still mimic this exercise motion, while lying on your back on the floor, a bed or any flat surface. To get all the same benefits as biking, just raise your legs and pretend that you are pedaling. This will still stimulate blood circulation in your legs and help protect your veins.

Try Swimming or Water Workouts for Veins

The buoyancy of water means that swimming and water aerobics don’t put stress on your joints while still providing cardiovascular benefits. The water resistance will also help workout your leg muscles even more and improve circulation.

If you have a pool, try swimming lap. Or seek out a secluded lake or beach where you can take a socially responsible dip in the water.

Squats and Calf Raises

Squats and calf raises both strengthen your leg and thigh muscles. Now, that’s important. Because strong leg muscle produce strong contractions. And strong contractions help get blood out of your legs and back up to your heart. Which means no blood pooling, and a lower risk of varicose veins.

Of course, position is important with these exercises. See out in-depth guide to calf raises here. Then, think about these elements when squatting. Keep weight in your heels. Push your glutes back instead of down, and try to keep your head and chest lifted as you lower your body. In fact, since doing squats improperly can cause pain, it’s best to check your form with a trainer or even your doctor to prevent injury.

Preventing Varicose Veins

Risk factors that increase your chance of suffering from vein disease include:

  • If your family has a history of vein disease
  • If you are over 45
  • If you are a woman
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are overweight
  • If you sit for the majority of the day or stand for the majority of the day

If any of these apply, you’ll want to get started on a vein-healthy workout routine. Make sure to discuss any changes in your activity routine with a doctor before starting a new exercise program! And check out these safety tips for working out at home!

Safely Transitioning to a Home Workout

With so much time on our hands, but very few gym spaces available, we’re taking workouts to our living rooms, back yards and neighborhood streets. And this is all great, as long as you stay safe. To help protect your health, certified personal trainer Anita Slaughter, owner of A | TRAIN FITNESS, shares her top safety tips for at-home workouts! And feel free to reach out and train with Anita from home. She offers virtual training and Zoom fitness!

Staying safe with in-home exercise

1.       While exercise has numerous health benefits, if you weren’t exercising regularly before the stay at home mandate, you should ease into a fitness program and slowly increase the frequency, duration and intensity.

2.       It is important to add variety to the fitness program you choose.  Working the same muscle groups, the same way, day after day can lead to overuse/repetitive injuries, so mix it up.  Participate in lower body strength training one day, upper body the next and core the following. Throw cardio exercise in the mix, with walks or runs outside for the added Vitamin D benefit.

3.      Without the normal day to day movement we’re getting, even from our homes to our cars, we are far more sedentary right now than we even realize.  So if you don’t have a 45-60 minute block of time, break it up into two to three 15-30 minute segments each day.

4.      If you have underlying health issues (like vein disease) or you’re concerned about safety, consult a professional.  Telehealth is now available if you need to get clearance from a physician or vein specialist.  There are numerous web options for exercise programs so find one that fits your needs and investigate to ensure they’re provided by a professional who is certified by a Nationally Accredited organization.

Sources: NYU Langone Health, Anita Slaughter, CPT

What is CVD?

CVD (Chronic venous disease, also known as chronic venous insufficiency) refers to several vein problems. And all of those problems are chronic. But what does that mean for you? If you have CVD, you may develop varicose veins, spider veins, and/or ulcers on your lower legs.

Now, that’s what can happen with venous disease. But, why does CVD occur? Well, the condition develops when the veins in your legs can’t return blood to your central circulatory system or heart. Ignore the problem, and CVD will get worse. Which could mean pain, damage to your legs, and other medical issues such as blood clots. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors and warning signs of CVD. So you can receive a diagnosis and treatment plan before you face serious complications.   

What is My Risk Factor for Chronic Venous Disease (CVD)?

Unfortunately, just getting older puts you at higher risk for CVD. As your body ages, the valves in your vein face more stress. And that can prevent your blood from flowing out of your feet and legs, back to your heart.

Gender is another risk factor. Because women get CVD more frequently than men. Why is that the case? Things like hormone replacement therapy, and hormonal birth control can increase your risk. And so can pregnancy, because it adds to hormonal changes and physical stress. Finally, genetics are a risk factor. People with a family history of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or other vascular diseases are more likely to develop CVD.

New Data on Diabetes and CVD

In a recent study, researchers discovered a link between diabetes, muscle mass, grip strength and CVD risk. The data suggest that, at least for diabetic patients, having low muscle mass and a weak grip was associated with a stronger risk for CVD, PAD and even coronary heart disease.

In other words, working on your physical strength can help protect you from vascular problems. And that makes sense, since we know that how you live also makes a difference for your vein health. If you’re obese, sedentary or spend lots of time of standing or sitting, you put pressure on your veins. Then, if you add in insufficient physical activity, you’ll really up your risk for CVD. If any of that sounds familiar, now’s a good time to get exercising. Because staying active will help improve your circulation and keep your body better supplied with oxygen.

What are the Symptoms of CVD?

If you experience any of the following symptoms or have chronic or debilitating leg pain, it is best to seek evaluation and discuss treatment options with a medical professional as soon as possible. Left untreated, these symptoms could worsen, causing more pain or even more serious medical conditions.

  • Leg aches and pains
  • Leg cramping and night gramps
  • Tired or heavy legs
  • Restless legs
  • Rashes, skin darkening, or patches of dry itchy skin on the leg
  • Burning or itching veins in lower extremities
  • Ulcers on the leg that are slow to heal
  • Restless legs
  • Blue, bulging twisted veins (varicose veins or spider veins)
  • Recurrent cellulitis
  • Swollen or tight-feeling ankles
  • Lymphedema (a build-up of fluid underneath the skin)
  • Spontaneous bleeding

Texas Endovascular provides several treatment options for patients with chronic venous disease. Contact us to schedule a consultation if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.

Treatment Options for Chronic Venous Disease  

Early detection and treatment can decrease the pain of CVD and reduce the risk of developing additional, more serious medical complications.

Detection and diagnosis of chronic venous disease, as well as arterial disease and blood clots, is done with a diagnostic ultrasound evaluation. This technology enables a sonographer to see inside the body and locate both superficial and deep varicose veins.

We offer wide variety of treatment options for chronic venous disease, including:

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)

RFA involves inserting a catheter into the abnormal vein and using heat energy to close it. The procedure takes less than an hour, requires only a local anesthetic and leaves no scar.

Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy

We often use ultrasound guided sclerotherapy to close any residual, non-bulging varicose veins after radiofrequency ablation. The procedure uses ultrasound to access a vein. Using a small needle, a medication combined with carbon dioxide gas is injected into the abnormal vein to close it. The procedure is quick, and patients are able to resume their daily activities immediately afterward. Anti-inflammatory medications and compression stockings may be used to help manage any discomfort following RFA and ultrasound sclerotherapy.

Our additional treatment options for eliminating bulging and spider veins caused by CVD include:

  • Cosmetic sclerotherapy
  • Radiofrequency perforator ablation
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy

Varicose Vein Help in Texas

Dr. William C. Fox and Dr. Eric Hardee of Texas Endovascular specialize in treating patients with chronic venous disease using state-of-the-art technology and minimally invasive procedures. The results provide quick relief from the symptoms of CVD, and patients are typically able to resume their normal, day-to-day activities immediately following treatment.

If you are experiencing symptoms of CVD, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact our expert physicians today to schedule a consultation.

Surprise: Spider Veins Are an All-Age Problem

Ugh…those awful spider veins! They look awful and they can really hurt, too! If you have been distressed recently and noticed the appearance of little red and blue lines on your legs, don’t panic. Yes, you are young, healthy, and quite fit, so why would you see those “old lady” leg symptoms?

You may not like how they look, but the fact is they are really nothing to become upset about. In fact, they happen to be quite normal. With that said, there are some facts you should know about spider veins even if you are young. This is the best way to protect the appearance of your legs and enjoy healthy aging!

Continue reading “Surprise: Spider Veins Are an All-Age Problem”

Why Does my Calf Hurt When Running?

If you experience calf hurt when running, don’t think it’s just a cramp—it could be a sign of vascular disease. Many athletes notice pain or cramps in their lower legs when they workout or run. Often, the pain improves with rest. Now, these symptoms mimic those of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) And they also could mean you’ve pushed your muscles too hard with your latest workout. But, as it turns out, these cramps could also be a sign of PAES (Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome.)

PAES—The Jogging Disease calf hurt when running

PAES is a condition that develops when your calf muscle gets too large or moves into the wrong position. Then, it presses on your popliteal vein or artery, which is the main artery located behind your knee. The pressure limits blood flow to your lower legs and feet, making your calf hurt when running as well as other symptoms.

Often, you’re born with PAES. But you may not develop symptoms unless you ramp up your workouts. Because it’s the pressure of athletic training that triggers PAES symptoms. Runners often notice PAES pain, but cyclists and soccer players also tend to display symptoms of this condition.

Calf Hurt When Running and Other PAES Symptoms

Cramps and lower leg pain are classic PAES and PAD symptoms. And, with both conditions, the pain improves with rest. In fact, there are other similarities between PAES vs PAD symptoms.

Classic PAES symptoms include:

  • Cold feet after exercise
  • Numbness, burning or tingling calf muscle pain when running or exercising
  • Heavy, numb or swollen legs
  • Calf cramps, especially during exercise
  • Changing skin color
  • Blood clots

Clearly, many of these symptoms are also warning signs of PAD. So, how can your Houston vein specialist determine the cause of your symptoms? A few clinical signs hold the key to diagnosis.

Diagnosing PAES vs PAD

For the most part, your age and medical history can point us towards the right diagnosis. PAD usually affects older adults. Many PAD sufferers have also smoked, and may have other health issues, including heart or kidney disease and/or diabetes.

PAES, on the other hand, affects younger individuals. For the most part, people with this form of vascular disease are young, active and otherwise healthy. So we can usually pinpoint the cause of your symptom fairly easily, when you come into the office. Then, we can perform diagnostic testing, measuring your leg blood pressure, or using diagnostic ultrasound or MRI to take a closer look at your arteries.

Now, seeing us as soon as you notice symptoms is critical. Because, left untreated, PAES can narrow your popliteal artery. This will keep making your calf hurt when running and exercising. But it could also raise your risk for blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). PAES can even cause your artery wall to burst, called a popliteal aneurysm.

Treating PAES Pain in Houston

Once we’ve diagnosed PAES, treatment will involve relieving pressure on your popliteal artery or vein. As interventional radiologists, we will present you with different treatment options. The one that’s best for you will depend on the severity of pressure, and your present condition.

Ready to stop that calf hurt when running and find PAES relief? Don’t waste another day training through the pain. Schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston area vein specialists, and get back to feeling like your best and active self.

 

Sources: Henry Ford Livewell

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