Category: Vein Disease

This is the Science on Why You Must Treat Vein Reflux

Are you worried about vein reflux? Well, if so, the science just may be on your side. But before we can explain why, here’s a quick definition of venous refux.

What is Venous Reflux?

Vein reflux is a symptom of vein disease. You see, when the veins in your leg are healthy, the valves in them allow blood to flow up to your heart, fighting gravity. But when you have vein disease, those valves can’t work properly, and that allows blood to flow back down your legs instead, which is what we call venous reflux. Depending on how long it’s left untreated, vein reflux can leave you with varicose veins, as well as painful, swollen or achy legs. You may experience cramping, itchiness and a heavy feeling or tired legs. The skin on your legs can change or lose colors, or you can even develop venous ulcers. Now, all of these symptoms won’t develop at once. In fact, if you act quickly, you can prevent or reverse many side effects of reflux. Here’s the story:3

When your circulatory system works properly, your veins bring blood back up to your heart from your lower extremities. Along the way, little flaps (called valves) help the blood flow against gravity. (They do so by closing up as the blood travels past them.) But sometimes, those valves stop doing their jobs well. And that’s when venous reflux can set in. Because some of the blood that’s supposed to travel up and away from your legs gets stuck, pooling in your veins while they darken, stretch and bulge. woman with spider veins on thigh

At that stage of reflux, you may start to notice visible symptoms, like varicose veins. For many people, varicose veins are just a cosmetic concern. But in reality, these unsightly veins can cause serious medical problems. And the study we’ll review shows how important it is to treat even minor cases of venous reflux.

Vein Reflux Linked to Ulcers

The purpose of the study was to explore the effectiveness of different treatment methods for ulcers (hard to heal wounds that often develop on the legs of people with insufficient blood flow in their legs.)

Study author Aleksandra Jaworucka-Kaczorowska discovered that 85% of the ulcer patients she met with also had superficial venous reflux. Furthermore, she found that by treating their reflux with sclerotherapy, a treatment we offer in our Houston area vein clinics, patients’ venous reflux vastly improved and their ulcers healed at a faster rate!

Sclerotherapy is a great treatment option for veins that don’t show signs of serious vein disease.

spider vein treatment in houston tx

During the  procedure, we will inject a solution into your affected vein, making it shrink and close so that blood flow will be redirected through your other, healthier veins. After this process, your vein will eventually shrink and disappear from view on the surface of your skin.

Before performing sclerotherapy, your vein doctor will conduct a thorough examination and review your history to make sure that your vein issue isn’t a sign of a more serious underlying health issue. But if you are a good candidate for sclerotherapy, it is a fast, minimally invasive treatment that requires no sedation or anesthesia. Most patients can return to work or other activities quickly. It may require more than one session to completely treat your spider veins. But since you’ll enjoy a cosmetic benefit and contribute to the fight against leg ulcers, it’s a treatment option that is certainly worth considering!

Are you ready to deal with minor or major vein problems? We’re here to help you achieve your cosmetic and improved health goals. Simply schedule a consultation with our experts. We can perform diagnostic tests and make suggestions for your best treatment options.

What’s the worst varicose veins age?

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? Well guess what: there’s not one varicose veins age when you can expect these bulging guests on your legs.

You may not like how they look, but the fact is that  they can become a serious health concern. 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!

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Why You Get Lower Leg Ulcers and How to Treat Them

lower-leg-ulcers

Lower leg ulcers are open sores that don’t heal or keep coming back. In fact, they’re one of the most common forms of chronic wounds in this country. Ulcers can develop on your lower legs. They usually show up around the ankles. But they also develop if you put consistent pressure on your foot. We can easily treat small ulcers. And stop them from returning. But if an ulcer is left untreated, it can grow deeper into your skin tissue. Or it may become infected.  In that case, treatment will likely be drastic–and expensive.

How does a lower leg ulcer develop? Are there different kinds of ulcers? Read on to get a better understanding of ulcers and their treatment options. Plus, learn the best methods of prevention.

Venous Ulcers

Venous ulcers are most common on your lower leg. These occur when your leg veins don’t return blood back to the heart. (It’s a condition called chronic venous insufficiency.) Then, the unreturned blood pools in your leg tissue, causing swelling and low oxygen levels. As a result, even small wounds can’t heal. Instead, they get larger, leading to venous stasis ulceration.

Venous ulcers range from being painless to quite painful over time. They usually develop just above the ankle and on the inner leg. A telling sign of a venous ulcer is a brown, rust-colored pigmentation. YOu may also feel itchy or experience a dull ache. And swelling may develop.

Once it forms, the ulcer is dark purple or red in color and possibly tinted with yellow fibrous tissue. A green or yellow discharge is also possible if it is infected. The surrounding skin might be warm and appear shiny and tight.

Venous ulcers usually affect older patients with a history of vein disease, varicose veins, and blood clotting. The fundamental cause is poor circulation, which can be brought on a number of ways, from atherosclerosis, obesity, heart disease, or smoking. Genetics, certain medications, and simply standing or sitting for too long on a daily basis can also factor in.

Diabetic and Arterial Ulcers

Though much less common, diabetic (neurotrophic) and arterial (ischemic) ulcers can be equally dangerous if left untreated. Their cause, appearance, location, and treatment are different from venous ulcers, so it is important to have an expert diagnose them. If left untreated and infected, they can lead to amputation.

Diabetic or neurotrophic ulcers are a result of an impaired sensation in the feet and decrease in wound healing, usually from diabetic nerve damage. They occur at pressure points on the bottom of the feet or wherever a wound has formed. Because of the lack of sensation, the patient is often unaware of them. It is important that diabetic patients inspect their feet daily. They can be pink/red or brown/black with a punched out or calloused/cracked border.

Arterial or ischemic ulcers on the other hand are extremely painful and caused by arterial disease, like atherosclerosis and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). They don’t heal well because poor circulation lowers blood levels in the tissue. They often develop on the feet, especially the toes, and occasionally on the ankles. Their appearance is yellow, brown, gray, or black. They usually do not bleed. These sores may feel cold to the touch, because of poor circulation. Like diabetic ulcers, the surrounding skin appears punched out. The pain is greatest at night and can be relieved by dangling the legs off the bed.

Ulcer Treatments and Prevention compression socks help lower leg ulcers

We can treat venous ulcers in a variety of ways. One key to successful outcomes? Early treatments! According to a new study in JAMA, treating ulcers early (with ablation and compression) is very cost-effective. And it can cut your risk of recurring ulcers.

Now, compression is the most common ulcer treatment. Lifting your legs above your heart, whenever possible, also helps. It’s also important to treat the underlying cause of the ulcer. Now, for venous ulcers, this includes closing the abnormal veins that causing venous insufficiency. Once again, you’d use ablation therapy.

For arterial ulcers, a proper diagnosis must be made to determine the potential for wound healing. Compression therapy does not work for arterial ulcers and can make them worse. Treatments involve attempting to re-vascularize the leg through endovascular therapy. Treatment for neuropathic ulcers include debridement or removal of infected tissue, avoiding pressure on the ulcerated leg, and special shoes to prevent contact irritation. Also, for any kind of ulcer, elevation can speed healing by improving circulation.

Ulcers of the lower leg can be prevented by checking your ankles and legs daily for early signs of ulceration. This is key to getting the preventative treatment you need. Taking daily walks, eating healthier, quitting smoking, and anything that improves overall circulation will go a long way in preventing ulcers and venous/heart conditions.

New Ulcer Wound Dressings

While ulcers are open, your vein doctor will need to dress the wounds to avoid infection. Now, German researchers are developing a new type of dressing that may better promote healing. Currently, many dressings are made of animal-based proteins, but this treatment option does create a risk of your body’s immune system responding badly to outside substances.

To better protect patients, the wound dressing currently being developed works with our body’s elastin, which gives skin stretch and resilience. Currently being tested in pre-clinical trials, this new dressing could help customize wound treatment. Scientists expect to finish their research at the end of 2021, at which point they’ll apply for medical approval. In the meantime, check out other ways to treat your ulcers.

How to Treat Your Ulcer at the Source

Whether you need an accurate diagnosis for your lower leg ulcer, or need treatment, Texas Endovascular has the vein expertise necessary to help. Schedule an appointment with us today and we’ll get you on the path to recovery.

Sources: JAMA NetworkCirculation Foundation, Venous News 

Why Do I Need Compression Socks after Vein Treatment?

Here at our Houston area vein clinics, we recommend compression therapy after vein treatments. So, if you are planning remove your spider or varicose veins with our minimally invasive procedures, you’ll need to rock those socks. Here’s our guide to compression socks, and a few bonus tips for scoring your best vein treatment outcomes.

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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. Some evidence suggests that drinking one glass of wine or red grape juice daily could help prevent bloodclots. Why is that the case? Well, red grapes contain an antioxidant called polyphenol that prevents the platelets in your blood from sticking together to form a clot.

But grabbing a glass of vino can’t be the only preventative measures that you take. 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

 

Move It Monday: Benefits of Walking Workouts

Are you ready to embrace the benefits of walking? We know that maintaining a regular (physician approved) exercise program can help you slow the progression of vein disease, while also lowering your risk of experiencing associated complications, but we also know that it can be tough to get started.

Frequent exercise, like taking walks, can help manage the pain of PAD

To help you get motivated, our Texas Endovascular Team regularly shares Move it Monday fitness inspiration! If you like it what you see, incorporate the workout in to your routine! Not your jam? Come back another time for more motivation!

On the schedule this week: A Beginner’s Walking Schedule, courtesy of VeryWellFit.com: Before beginning, check your posture to make sure your chin is up, you’re standing straight, and you’re not leaning forward or backward while you move. Walk at an easy pace for a few minutes before speeding up. Wear supportive shoes and comfy clothing. You can do your walking outdoors, indoors, or on a treadmill.

The Right Way to Begin a Walking Workout Program

In order to enjoy some of the benefits of walking, you actually have to get your body moving! Here’s a four-week plan for moving more and helping your body enjoy the results.

Week 1: Start with a daily 15-minute walk at an easy pace. Walk five days the first week. You want to build a habit, so consistency is important. Spread out your rest days, such as making day 3 a rest day and day 6 a rest day.

Weekly total goal: 60 to 75 minutes.

Week 2: Add five minutes a day so you are walking for 20 minutes, five days a week. Or, you may wish to extend yourself more on some days, followed by a rest day.

Weekly total goal: 75 to 100 minutes.

Week 3: Add five minutes a day so you are walking for 25 minutes, five days a week.

Weekly total goal: 100 to 125 minutes.

Week 4: Add five minutes a day to walk for 30 minutes, five days a week.

Weekly total goal: 125 to 150 minutes.

Snags: If you find any week to be difficult, repeat that week rather than adding more time. Do this until you are able to progress comfortably.

Walking for the Elderly: a Perfect Choice

Taking a walk is a great movement choice for everyone. But recent findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, showed why it’s even more important for older adults. Basically, they found that just one hour of walking a week reduces the risk of any form of death by 40%, for adults over the age of 85.

Here’s what we learned. Researchers followed more than 7,000 over the age of 85 who joined the Korean National Health Screening Program. And even those who walked slowly, for at least 1 hour per week, enjoyed that 40% reduced risk for all-cause mortality. Plus, they reduced their risk of cardiovascular mortality by 39%, compared to adults who remained inactive. As a result, study author Moo-Nyun Jin, MD concluded, “Walking was linked with a lower likelihood of dying in older adults.” And you can get those benefits whether you move slowly or vigorously.

Benefits of Walking: Improve Your PAD Symptoms

Low impact workouts are a great choice for any one looking to increase your activity level. But, as vein specialists, we especially recommend walking to our PAD patients. That’s because PAD pain often pops up when you walk, making this simple-yet-crucial task very difficult.

Why is walking so hard when you have PAD? It’s because of atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up in your leg arteries. This plaque blocks oxygen and nutrients from getting to your legs when they fire up to get you moving. So, when you have PAD and you start moving, you may experience the pain of that oxygen deprivation.

But, even though PAD makes walking hurt, that very movement can help you manage PAD symptoms. The more you walk, the better your muscles learn to adapt to their limited blood supply. And, as your muscles adapt, you’ll be able to walk for longer periods before that PAD pain pops up and slows you down. angioplasty for PAD

That’s why walking programs like the one we just introduced can be helpful for PAD patients, helping improve your muscle strength as well as your ability to balance and complete your daily tasks. Also, as your calf muscles get stronger, your circulation may improve. And, if you dramatically improve your lifestyle habits as you embrace more movement, you may stop PAD progression as you research more permanent treatment options. (See the image at right for one PAD treatment option.)

New Walking App for PAD Patients

Recently, a team of researchers from Hospital de Santo António in Porto, Portugal developed a mobile app to help PAD patients enjoy the benefits of walking. Called WalkingPad, the new app allows physicians to import walking prescriptions for their patients, and track the walks they take.

It’s designed for use in the patient’s home environment. Dr. Ivone Silva, one of the physicians at the developing hospital, explains that it offers a “participatory physical exercise program, carried out in a family environment. It is therefore more attractive, personalized, effective and of very low cost and risk when compared to a rehabilitation program carried out in the hospital.”

While the app is in its early stages of development, the developers hope to evolve the technology into a complete monitoring system for PAD patients. In the future, they hope it can function as a medical device that’s able to analyze patients’ walking patterns using artificial intelligence.

But, for now, it’s simply about putting in the work and sticking to your walking program. Of course, your walking results won’t be instant: you may need to stick to the program for as long as three months before seeing symptom improvements. Now, as always, check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. If you have any questions about your ability to exercise with an endovascular condition, come in to our offices for a consultation with our Houston area vein specialists, Dr. Fox, Dr. Hardee and Dr. Valenson.

 

Sources: www.verywellfit.com, Cardiosmart.org

These 4 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.

Caffeine and Blood Clot Risk

When you drink caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda, you’re more likely to dehydrate. If that happens, your blood clot risk will increase for a few reasons. You see, without enough hydration, your blood thickens and gets stickier. And that means it’s more likely to form clots. Especially if you have the habit of meeting up for daily coffee dates. Or if you swap a diet soda for a water bottle when you feel thirsty.

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

What’s the Varicose Vein Treatment for Men?

Are you exploring varicose vein treatment for men? We know people always say that men make the worst patients. And, as it turns out, that may actually be true!

Here’s the story. Statistics show that men are less likely than women to seek treatment for what they consider ‘minor health issues.’ Unfortunately, many people think of varicose veins as a simple cosmetic problem. So men are unlikely to seek medical attention for these bulging veins.

But this thinking is a problem. Because varicose veins aren’t just ugly: they can be a sign of more serious medical conditions like chronic venous disease (CVD).  For that reason, you can’t dismiss vein-related health issues. In fact, if they’re left untreated, those veins can actually cause life-threatening health complications.

Varicose Veins are not a Gender Issue

Varicose veins affect men and women of all ages. Now, while older individuals have a higher risk, they can develop at any age. And that happens when blood pools in the veins of your lower extremities, causing them to stretch out. Over time, they stop returning to their normal size, leaving them swollen, bumpy and visible through your skin.

Aside from age, risk factors for varicose veins in men include family history, standing in one spot for too long, and a sedentary lifestyle. Early on, varicose veins may be irritating at worst. Then, as your disease progresses, the veins can become so swollen that their valves no longer meet close completely. Which is a big problem, since that allows blood to flow in the wrong direction. (We call that reflux.)

As we mentioned before, varicose veins are more common in seniors. (That’s due to the loss of tissue and muscle mass and weakening of venous walls that naturally occurs with age.) But they can strike at any age, and are very common in men. In fact, approximately 45 percent of men will have varicose veins at some point in their life.

men

The likelihood of developing varicose veins is higher if you have a family history of vein-related health issues. Standing for long periods during the day and sitting for too long also increases the risk of varicose veins.

Worried you’ve got a problem? Symptoms of chronic venous disease include heaviness, pain, cramps, and swelling in the legs. On their own, or together, they  can keep you from your daily activities.

Health Risks of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are often the first sign of a serious, progressive condition called venous disease. Varicose veins can progress to cause swelling in the legs and hyperpigmentation (skin darkening) in the ankle area, caused by blood pooling in the veins. When this occurs, it is not unusual to develop painful, debilitating ulcers in the skin above the ankles on the inside of the leg.

Varicose veins also put you at risk for blood clots, ulcers, and other painful and dangerous conditions. When blood pools in the legs as a result of varicose veins, it can easily develop into phlebitis, a superficial but painful blood clot that is not usually life threatening. However, if left untreated, phlebitis can worsen and grow into deep veins, where pieces of the clot may break off and move through the blood stream. Traveling bits of blood clots may become lodged in the lungs and cause a life-threatening blockage called a pulmonary embolism.

While a greater percentage of women get varicose veins than men, men often develop more severe cases. This is largely because men frequently ignore the signs of vein problems until they experience significant discomfort, while women are more likely to seek treatment before dangerous complications have a chance to arise.

Varicose Vein Treatment for Men (and Women)

Varicose veins are usually easy to treat, especially if we catch them early.

For minor cases, wearing compression socks is often enough to keep blood from pooling in the veins and keep it moving back to the heart. Exercise regularly to improve blood flow.  And think about limiting your salt intake. Remember, men who notice signs of varicose veins should consult a doctor right away. So they can choose simple treatments like switching to a different type of socks.

In more severe cases of varicose veins, it may be necessary to have veins treated with lasers in a process called radiofrequency laser ablation (RFA). In this quick outpatient procedure, energy is applied through a laser fiber inserted into the vein to collapse and seal it shut, which causes blood to be diverted into healthy veins nearby instead. The procedure is generally painless and takes about thirty minutes. Afterward you can return to work and resume normal activities almost immediately.

Want to hear even better news? Research from the Journal of Vascular Surgery proves that, after two years, RFA offers similar results to surgeries that remove varicose veins. Even better? with RFA, you don’t have to worry about hospital stays or extended recovery time. While you will have to follow our specialists’ post procedure instructions, you should be able to return to your daily activities almost immediately.

So listen up guys: if you suspect you may have varicose veins or venous disease, contact Texas Endovascular today to schedule an appointment. Don’t push off a consult: if you wait until your varicose veins progress, you may find yourself dealing with a more serious, potentially life-threatening condition.

CVI, Chronic Venous Insufficiency: What You Need to Know

CVI, or chronic venous insufficiency, is a condition in which the valves in your veins don’t work properly. This makes it difficult for the veins in your legs to carry blood back to your heart.

Deep Vein Thrombosis
Tired, achy legs are actually a symptom of cvi, chronic vein insufficiency!

CVI is actually quite a common condition, affecting up to 40% of people in the U.S. Because it is a chronic problem, it can lead to other side effects like, swelling of the legs and feet pain in your legs and spider veins.

Symptoms of CVI

Some symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include:

  • Heavy legs
  • Throbbing or dull aches in the legs
  • Swollen legs and ankles
  • Itchy, cramped legs
  • Changes in skin color—especially dark patches
  • Thickened ankle skin
  • Ulcers
  • Spider veins
  • Blood clots

What Causes Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing CVI:

  • A family history of the condition
  • Past blood clots
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Long periods of sitting or standing

Exercises that Help

 

While we have many ways to treat CVI, exercise is an important part of managing this condition. Here are some of the best options to help you feel better.

Walking

Choosing a low-impact walking workout will strengthen your calf muscles so blood will get out of your legs at a faster pace.

Leg Lifts

This is a stationary move that strengthens your entire leg, and helps get blood circulating. To try, lie down flat on your back.  Working on one leg at a time, raise your leg to the ceiling and hold it in place for 10 seconds. Slowly lower that leg while raising the other, repeating for 10 reps on each side.

Calf Raises

We can’t say enough about calf raises. That’s why we devoted this entire post to their benefits. Check it out!

Swimming

We love this zero-impact workout because it takes all the pressure off your bones while strengthening your leg muscles to improve circulation.

Vein Healthy Yoga Poses

One of the best poses for chronic venous insufficiency is also one of the most relaxing. To try it, lie down on your back on a flat surface, close to a wall. Face your feet towards the wall, and slowly walk both legs up it, until they form a 90-degree angle against the floor. Hold the position as long as you feel comfortable, to get blood out of your legs and prevent pooling and vein stretching.

 

Treating CVI in Houston

Depending on the severity of your condition, and your individual health profile, your treatment for CVI will differ. Only your vein specialist can determine the right course of treatment. There are, however, several common courses of treatment that we should review:

Medications

Some medications may help you manage CVI symptoms by working to improve the flow of blood within your vessels. These include:

  • Duretics, because they remove excess fluid from your body, reducing the volume that has to flow through your vesses.
  • Anti-inflammatories like pentoxifylline
  • Anti-coagulants or blood thinners, which prevent blood clots and keep your blood in a condition for optimal flow.

Preventing Vein Insufficiency

If you’re beginning to notice symptoms of CVI, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor and schedule a diagnostic vein scan. After that, try some of these steps:

  • Wear compression stockings. These special elastic socks or tights apply pressure to your lower leg and foot, reducing any swelling you may be experiencing and improving blood flow to the area.
  • Put your feet up. By elevating your feet to a level above your heart, you can help your body move the blood out of your legs and back to where it belongs.
  • Protect your skin. People with CVI are more prone to skin infections like dermatitis or cellulitis. To protect yourself against these conditions, you should regularly moisturize your skin to prevent dryness and flaking. Make sure to exfoliate your skin regularly to get rid of dead cells and follow your vein specialists instructions regarding any prescription ointments you may need to incorporate into your skin care routine.

Worried about CVI and hoping to prevent complications? We’re here to help. Schedule a consultation with our Houston vein specialists, so we can give you a treatment plan to manage CVI.

Sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Check out 9 Reasons Why Your Feet Swell

In our Houston area vein clinics, we see many people with peripheral edema—which is swelling of your feet and ankles due to fluid build-up–who ask why do my feet swell? Most of the patients we see for edema have fluid trapped in the soft tissues of their legs, and this buildup is due to malfunctioning valves in their veins.

But where does that fluid come from? It seeps out of your small blood vessels and collects in nearby tissue. Then, your sodium (salt) and water levels increase.

Next, your kidneys respond by circulating more blood around your body; this only starts a cycle that can lead to more leaking fluid and increased swelling.  Now, when things are working properly, your lymphatic system should get rid of that excess fluid, but when it isn’t up to the challenge, you’ll notice fluid build up.

If you have swollen legs or feet, the edema could be a symptom of vein disease: when the valves in your leg veins weaken or fail, the blood can no longer be pumped properly out of your legs. This causes blood and fluid to stick around and, as the fluid builds up, your leg may begin to swell—hence, edema.

What About Lymphedema? why do my feet swell

Related to edema is lymphedema, a form of chronic edema that develops when your body’s lymphatic system isn’t functioning properly. It’s different than the edema tied to vein-disease. But it’s important to understand that vein disease is progress, and so you may end up with both vein disease and a lymphatic disorder. As with swelling in the lower legs, lymphedema requires the attention of a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Otherwise, lymphedema can lead to serious complications, including leg amputation, as was recently the case for Bachelorette Season 15 contestant Cam Ayala.

Now, primary edema is the main cause of swelling in a vein clinic, but other factors may leave you with edema as well. However, if your legs are swollen and you don’t know why, you need to take action. First, rule out the causes we’re about to review. And if none of those make sense, come and see us for a diagnostic vein ultrasound. Because, even now, even in the time of COVID-19, it’s just not safe to ignore your vein health.

9 Reasons Your Feet Swell That Aren’t Vein Disease

Already ruled out these potential causes? It’s time to see your vein doc. Otherwise, check and see if:

  1. Your Feet Swell After a Long Flight or Drive

    As it turns out, you can develop vein-disease like symptoms from sitting too long. That’s because your veins get less effective at pushing blood up to your heart, allowing it to pool and making your feet swell up. Why? The problem is sitting: it limits your muscle contractions, making it harder for blood to move. But the position also pushes on your veins, which further reduces the blood flow…and, voila, edema!

  2. Your Feet Swell Because you’re Sedentary

    When you don’t exercise, your circulatory system can become compromised. Especially if you’re also carrying extra weight around. Bring those two factors together, and swollen feet and legs may be the result.

  3. You’ve Been Slamming Salty Snacks

    This cause of edema actually has nothing to do with your blood flow. Plain and simple—salt makes you retain water. And if that water sticks around your feet and legs, they get swollen!

  4. You’re Hurt

    When you’re dealing with injuries in your feet or ankles—whether it’s an acute issue like a sprain or fracture, or an overuse injury like shin splints—swelling may ensue. And while this may look like edema, the symptom is completely unrelated, and will only disappear when your underlying injury is treated.

  5. You’re Taking A New Medication

    Some medications can cause fluid retention or swelling in your legs, ankles or feet. So if your edema appears shortly after starting a new drug—especially for conditions like high blood pressure—check in with your prescribing doctor to see if the two are connected.

  6. You’re Developing a DVT

    In the beginning stages of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), your legs are sore and often swollen. Remember, a DVT is a blood clot in your deep leg veins, and it’s a medical emergency. That’s because if your clot breaks free and travels to your lungs (pulmonary embolism), your condition becomes life-threatening. Therefore, if you have any DVT risk factors (long air travel, pregnancy, smoking, taking oral birth control or medical history of clotting) and your feet swell, see your vein specialist immediately.

  7. You’ve Got Arthritis

    Your joints are inflamed when you have arthritis. And, sometimes, this inflammation causes swelling, especially around your ankles or big toe (gout.) If you’ve noticed localized swelling and feel stiff or achy, you should consult with a joint specialist as soon as possible.

  8. Heart or Kidney Problems are Brewing

    As we mentioned earlier, your kidney play a role in regulating fluid buildup in your body. When they aren’t functioning properly, they are unable to remove excess fluid, and you may develop edema. Similarly, when your heart isn’t working effectively, it can’t sufficiently pump blood around your body, allowing pressure to build up in your blood vessels. This can trigger the type of leaking fluid we initially discussed. And it’s why swollen feet and ankles are a common symptom of congestive heart failure, and hypertensive heart disease.

  9. Liver Disease

    When your liver is diseased, your hormone levels are impacted, as are the chemicals in your body which regulate fluids. Therefore, you may retain fluid and notice swollen feet and ankles with liver disease.

 

Now we’ve thoroughly explored non-vascular edema triggers. So, we have to remind you: lots of times, this symptom is an indication of problems in your veins. And that means that, if you’ve got swollen legs and you’re not sure why, go and see an experienced vein specialist to get a diagnosis.

Sources: Foot Pain Explored

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