Category: Vein Disease

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.)

Now, 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.

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. 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.

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 

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

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!

Continue reading “What’s the worst varicose veins age?”

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

Eat This, Not That: Foods for Vein Health

Did you know that choosing the right foods for vein health can improve your circulation? That’s important because your body’s circulatory system stretches over 60,000 miles long. And it 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%.

#5 Foods for Vein Health: Add Some Eggs foods for vein health

We’ve long heard that eggs up your cholesterol. And cholesterol can be a problem when it comes to your arterial health. But here’s the story: eggs are also loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein. And, according to a new study, this combination boosts heart-healthy metabolites in your body. In turn, that upped HDL levels in your blood, helping clear out cholesterol from your arteries and veins.

Now, earlier studies said that eating just half an egg a day increased your risk for heart disease by 6%. So, the jury’s still out on this favorite breakfast staple. But, for now, the latest evidence suggests that adding one egg to your daily diet should do more good than harm.

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

Your Cankles Could Be Hiding Types of Lymphedema!

There are several types of lymphedema, and all are serious health problems. 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? Types of Lymphedema

There are two main types of lymphedema: primary and secondary. With primary lymphedema we don’t always know the cause. (But we’ll review some common ones in a moment.) Now, with secondary lymphedema, your swelling usually develops after a surgery or infection, because those triggers damaged your lymphatic pathways’ ability to drain.

When it comes to primary lymphedema, there can be several triggers we’ve identified. 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

 

Why Do Your Veins Show More as You Age?

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. But why do your veins show more as you age?

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.

Recently, we learned that your height is also a risk factor. In fact, this study shows that people who are tall have a higher risk for varicose veins. (For the purposes of the study, ‘tall’ meant measuring above 5″9. And if that sounds awful, take heart. Researchers learned that being this tall does lower your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.)

But regardless of height, your age affects your risk for vein health concerns. 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

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