Tag: DVT

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

 

9 Ways to Prevent Flying and Blood Clots

Are you worried about flying with varicose veins? That’s perfectly natural, but we’re here to help. After all, plane travel can take a toll on anyone’s health (and patience) but, for people with vein disease or compromised vascular systems, it can be particularly dangerous. (Long road trips could also spell trouble.)

And both of these travel modes are especially risky if severe varicose veins have left you with edema (swelling in your legs.) Fortunately, your vein health issues don’t have to keep you grounded. So, if you choose to fly, or even if you’re stuck sitting for a long drive, follow these eight tips for long travel with vein disease: plane exercises

1. Rock your compression socks while flying with varicose veins

Anyone with a history of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), stroke, cancer, or heart disease; anyone who’s recently had pelvic or leg surgery; or anyone who is pregnant or obese is particularly at risk of having a health problem on a flight–especially if the travel time is eight hours or longer. Anyone in this higher-risk category should talk to a doctor before flying. Most likely, your doctor will emphasize the importance of getting up regularly during your flight.

You will also likely be fitted for compression socks, which come in a variety of styles and sizes. These garments offer outside pressure that helps your veins fight gravity and get pooling blood moving. Plus, they can help get your calf muscles pumping harder, making it easier for blood to get out of your legs and feet and up to your heart.

Remember compression levels, come in a range of pressure levels. (They’re measured in mmHg, similar to your blood pressure.) Before you travel, be sure to ask your vein specialist how much force is necessary to keep you safe. Compression socks are important for air travel because they improve your circulation while reducing the risk of swelling and blood clots!

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

It’s important for all travelers to up their liquid intake on flights, but it’s crucial for people with vein problems. People tend to dehydrate on planes, and dehydration can actually make your body retain its remaining fluids. Of course, fluid retention and swelling go hand in hand, and swelling can cause problems with blood clots. To avoid this domino effect, start drinking as soon as you board the plane, and keep going throughout the flight. Bonus? You’ll probably have to use the restroom more often, which will help ensure your continued movement while in the air!

3. Get a Leg Up

Stuck in the terminal during yet another flight delay? Or able to contort your body a bit in your seat? Try elevating your feet to get blood flowing out of your feet and legs and up to your heart. Use your carryon luggage, or even the seat-back tray as a prob, and get those feet above your heart whenever you get the chance.

4. Sneak in a Mid-Flight Workout or Take a Road Side Break

There are many times during a flight where getting up and walking around is simply not an option. But we know that movement is a crucial part of preventing blood clots. So what’s an air traveler to do? Sneak in a workout–without ever leaving your seat! Try this simple sequence whenever you remember, and your veins will likely stay in good shape throughout the flight: Extend both your legs, moving both feet in a circular motion. Next, bring one knee at a time up to your chest, holding the position for a minimum of 15 seconds. Finally, return both feet to the floor and point them upward. Lift both your heels as high as you can, and hold for as long as is comfortably possible.

5. When in doubt, flex your feet

You don’t have to get up to protect your veins during travel. Instead, you can flex your feet while seated–that will help keep up your circulation. To get the benefits, just pull your toes back towards your body. Hold for 10 seconds, then point your toes for another 10 seconds. Switch feet back and forth a few times, and you’ll get some of the benefits of the mid-flight exercises we just reviewed. Without disturbing your seat mate or getting any strange looks.

6. Look for Leg Room

While it costs more, upgrading your seat to enjoy a little legroom could really make a difference to your vein health. Because, even if you’re not in first class, more room makes it easier to move your legs. And moving your legs more will lower your risk for clots or other vein issues while you travel.

7. Skip the Sleeping Pills.

So many of us swallow a sleeping aid after takeoff so we can snooze away the hours in flight. But that’s a big problem for your veins. Because if you deeply sleep through your flight, you won’t get up and move. Instead, aim for cat naps. Interrupted by plenty of activity breaks. (Go back to point three for tips on what to do during those breaks.)

8. Pick Safe Travel Outfits baggy clothing flying with varicose veins

It may be tempting to wear your cutest outfit if you’re seeing family or friends at the airport after months of distancing. But steer clear of tight jeans or even fitted yoga pants, as both can restrict your blood flow. Instead, opt for loose-fitting clothes that won’t put any extra pressure on your legs or feet. That way, your blood can flow without restrictions. And you can always pull off an outfit change just before landing if you prefer a different look.

9. Treat Varicose Veins Before Flying

What’s the safest way of flying with varicose veins? That’s actually a trick question. Because your safest bet is to seek varicose vein treatment before boarding an airplane. What does that mean for you? Well, if you’ve got a plane reservation coming up (or if you’re just dreaming of travel), don’t wait. Make an appointment today with our Houston vein specialists. We’ll discuss your vein health options, suggesting treatments that could make it safer to fly, or even sharing guidance to get you through your trip until you have time to treat those spider veins!

Sources: National Blood Clot Alliance

 

What is May-Thurner Syndrome and How’s it Treated?

May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS) develops when your left iliac vein gets compressed by your right common iliac artery. This hampers drainage in your left leg. And, without treatment, you’ll face an increased risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the deep veins of your leg.

May-Thurner Syndrome: Who’s at Risk?May-Thurner syndrome after bed rest for pregnancy

This condition mostly affects younger, women between the ages of 20 and 45. It’s most likely to develop if you’ve been immobile for a long time, or after a pregnancy. But it can impact women of other ages, though it’s less likely. And in rare cases, men may also be affected.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common May-Thurner symptoms include pelvic pain, painful leg swelling and varicose veins, almost always in your left leg. You may also notice changes in skin color, persistent leg pain, swollen veins and leg ulcers. And chronic hemorrhoids, as well as upper leg swelling, may both develop.

Disease Stages

Without treatment, May-Thurner syndrome will progress through a series of stages. At first, while your vein is compressed, you may not notice any symptoms. But then, if compression continues, venous spurs will form. These are fibrous growths in your vein, and they inhibit your blood flow. (That’s when your DVT risk starts to rise.)

After this stage, the next progression would be forming a DVT. At this point, you may notice DVT symptoms such as warm skin, swelling, changes in skin color as well as pain or cramping. A DVT is a medical emergency, because it can break free from your leg veins and travel to your lungs. (This is called a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal disease.)

Diagnosing and Treating May-Thurner Syndrome

We may screen you for May-Thurner syndrome if you come in with varicose veins or other symptoms. (Especially if you’re in the at-risk age group, or recently had a baby or went on extended bed rest.) We can usually detect the compressed vein with a diagnostic ultrasound.

As interventional radiologists, we’re often able to treat this disease by stenting or inflating your compressed vein. This technique opens up your vein, improving blood flow and reducing your risk for DVT. If you’re at risk for May-Thurner Syndrome but aren’t yet in trouble, we can also help you prevent this risky disease.

Tips for Prevention

While we can’t guarantee prevention, certain measures can lower your disease risk. These include wearing compression stockings during your pregnancy. (And when you’re going to be immobile for a long time, as with an extended flight or road trip.)

Sticking to a healthy weight, especially during pregnancy, can also help you avoid May-Thurner Syndrome. And getting regular exercise–especially with moves that involve your calf muscles–can boost blood flow in your leg veins, helping lower your risk.

Are you a woman between the ages of 20 and 45, with any symptoms of May-Thurner syndrome? Don’t wait another day to seek help for this progressive disease. Instead, schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston-area vein specialists. Using our non-invasive imaging devices, we can diagnose this disease in its early stages. That way, we can intervene as soon as possible, and prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

Sources: The Cleveland Clinic

 

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

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

1.       Your Age Affects your Veins.

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

 

2.       Your body weight makes visible veins.

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

 

3.       Vein disease and Visible Veins

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

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

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

Valves and Veins

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

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

Signs of A Problem

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

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

 

Treating Your Varicose Veins

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

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

Sources: Women Fitness Magazine

The Danger of Leaky Veins and Vein Disease!

Did you know that untreated vein disease could lead to leaky veins? And, when you have leaky valves or veins, you may develop edema or vascular congestion, a condition that could cause your feet to turn blue due to constriction in the small blood vessels that feed your extremities?

Well, it’s true, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why we want you to stick with preventative health care. Being proactive about your vein health can help you avoid a medical emergency. This is something New York City mom Tammy Fried learned the hard way. While she was 28 weeks pregnant!

A Scary COVID Vein Story

Back in May 2020, Tammy told the Today show that she woke up feeling something wasn’t right. Soon, she had a nose bleed, and started coughing blood! She called for a virtual emergency room visit, and luckily, got sent to the real hospital immediately!

Once there, doctors discovered that one of her abnormal blood vessels burst. Now, that leaky vein was spilling blood into her lungs. Fortunately, there was an interventional radiologist on call at the hospital. So, he could plug the hole with minimally invasive treatments. And she could avoid surgery, helping her recover. And, two weeks later, deliver her baby boy, now nicknamed Miracle Max!

Of course, we want our patients to avoid emergency situations like Tammy’s. So, if your legs are tired, heavy or cramping, your may need a diagnostic ultrasound from your vein specialist. If that is the case, you may be wondering: how will an ultrasound uncover what’s going on inside my legs? Isn’t that kind of technology more common in Obstetrics offices?

Well, you’re partially correct: interventional radiologists use a different kind of ultrasound to diagnose conditions like Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) The technology we use is known as a Doppler ultrasound. And in this post, we’ll teach you how it helps us detect many different kinds of vein disease.

What conditions can a Doppler ultrasound detect?

Doppler ultrasounds check your blood flow. They help us discover whether you have problems like narrowing or leaky veins or blockages in your blood vessels.

This type of ultrasound uses sound waves to check how well blood flows through your legs. Those waves bounce off your moving blood cells, giving your doctors a better picture of the speed and health of your blood flow. Doppler ultrasounds involve hand-held devices; screenings are pain free and non-invasive.

Using a Doppler ultrasound, vein specialists can detect disruptions in your blood flow, hardening of your arteries and even potentially life threatening conditions like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that develops in the deep veins of your legs that rest well below the skin’s surface.

When should I get a Doppler ultrasound?

We may recommend an ultrasound if there are signs that your blood flow has been reduced. These symptoms can include changes in the appearance of the skin on your legs, leg pain that appears with movement, hair loss on your legs or even wounds that won’t heal.

If you’ve had a blood clot, or we suspect you have one, a Doppler ultrasound can quickly confirm this diagnosis.

We may also recommend a Doppler ultrasound if you’ve recently had a stroke or heart attack. That way, we can determine whether compromised blood flow or clots may be putting you at risk for a repeat problem.

What’s involved in a diagnostic ultrasound for leaky veins?

You’ll typically lie down for your ultrasound. Your ultrasound technician may measure pressure in certain areas of your body by apply blood pressure cuffs at points like your ankles, calves or thighs.

Next, your technician will apply lubricant to the  ultarasound guide (called a transducer). Then he or she will move the device over your skin until we receive a good image of your blood flow.  A Doppler ultrasound typically takes up to 45 minutes. Once it’s done, you are usually free to get up and go back to your daily activities.

When you have an ultrasound in our Houston area vein clinics, your results will be reviewed and delivered to you by one of our highly trained team members. If a problem is detected, we will then take the time to discuss and explain your diagnosis, and walk you through all your possible treatment options.

Sounds like an easy way to prevent medical emergencies, right? That’s because it is! So don’t wait another day, worrying that your damaged veins may leak. Instead, schedule an appointment with our team today. We’ll give you a better picture of your health, and protect you from problems that could already be developing!

 

3 Blood Clot Warning Signs & Symptoms

Recently on the blog, we spent some time explaining the science of blood clots: what they are, why they form and what they can do to your health. Today, we’re going to provide some more helpful information: this is how you can tell if you’re developing a blood clot!

How Can I tell if I have a Blood Clot?

The scary answer to this question is: you can’t always tell when you’re developing a blood clot. Sometimes, blood clots form without any obvious symptoms. But sometimes blood clots form and cause a range of other impacts on your body. Many of those symptoms will depend on the location of your blood clot.

As it turns out, women have a higher clotting risk. And one early warning sign may be tingling in your hands. That tingling could even cause temporary numbness. So if either symptom develops, you should see your vein specialist immediately.

If you have DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a clot in the deep veins of your legs) you may develop symptoms including redness or other changes of color at the site of your clot, warm skin, swelling, cramps and pain, without any obvious injury. Sometimes, the redness could look streaky, and move down your leg.

If the clot forms in your lower leg, cramping there could be a warning sign of a forming clot. With a DVT, that swelling (called edema) could look a little different than other forms of fluid buildup. Because, if a clot is to blame, you’ll notice pits or depressions in the swollen area that stick around for a few seconds after you press on the skin.

What is a Clot Break?

A clot break is a serious medical complication. This can happen when a DVT breaks loose from your legs and travels to your lungs (Pulmonary embolism).  A clot break could also travel from your heart to your brain, with vascular flow. And this is obviously a potentially fatal complication. With a clot break, you may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath (for no apparent reason), an unexplained cough, chest pain, an increased heart rate and fatigue. Your breath may also come quickly, and you may notice pain in your rib cage, especially when you breathe deeply.

If the clot travels to your brain, the symptoms include loss of strength in your arms and legs, slurred speech and, sadly, sudden death.

If you’re at increased risk (you’ve just taken a long plane trip, you’re pregnant, or have compromised cardiovascular health) see your doctor for any of these symptoms. A blood clot can quickly become a medical emergency.

Do I Need Treatment?

In theory, your blood clot will self-resolve. That means, your body will naturally break it down and absorb the clot—eventually. But that process could take weeks or even months. And, depending on the location of your clot, waiting that long could pose a major threat to your health.

Why? Here’s the deal: if you have a clot in your artery, your cells won’t get the oxygen-rich blood they need to work. So they’ll stop functioning. If the clot cuts off oxygen to your brain cells, you’ll develop stroke symptoms. If the clot’s in your coronary artery (impacting your heart), you’ll start developing heart attack symptoms.

So, clearly, arterial clots are medical emergencies. But clots in your veins, like DVTS, are also serious. And that’s because they cause their own set of symptoms, but also because of their potential to break free and travel to your lungs.

In other words, while you could wait for your body to heal that clot, doing so could be a fatal mistake. Instead, let’s explore the best way to medically treat your blood clot.

 

How Will You Treat My Clot?

Even if it means a trip to the emergency room, see a doctor at the first sign of a clot. If you do have a clot, you’ll need one of two treatments: medication or interventions involving medical devices.

Oral or intravenous (IV) blood thinners can help manage a blood clot. Alternatively, your doctor may insert a wire or catheter to try and open up your blood vessels. Finally, in certain situations, your healthcare provider may surgically remove the blood clot (thromectomy.)

The good news is: blood clot treatments are fairly effective, especially if they are administered quickly.  But in order to benefit from these treatments, you must be seen before the clot grows or causes additional damage like a heart attack or stroke. For that reason, we can’t emphasize this enough: seek immediate medical attention from your Houston vein specialists at the first sign of a suspected blood clot!

Sources: Us News & World Report, KRPC 2 News Houston

Learn the Hidden Danger of Spanx and Skinny Jeans

Sure, they feel tight, but did you know there’s a hidden danger of Spanx and skinny jeans? And that’s a big problem, because so many women love to rock these style staples? To begin with, let’s take an impromptu poll: raise your hand if you’ve ever squeezed into shape wear so that little black dress fit just a bit better. Or if your jeans are so snug they could be painted on your legs.

So many of us have, and why not? It seems like a foolproof way to look our best without having to suffer through hours at the gym or weeks of deprivation. But there is a catch: spending too much time in restrictive clothing and shape wear can actually take a toll on your body.

Danger of Spanx and Tight Clothing for Your Health

Wearing tight clothes like skinny jeans or compression garments  restricts circulation in your legs. It leaves your blood stagnant and can worsen varicose veins.

These garments also put added pressure on your abdomen. Eventually, that pressure travels down to your legs, ultimately hindering your blood flow.

After a few hours in Spanx, skinny jeans or other compression garments, you may start to experience:

Tingling and Numbness

Since shape wear has to put a lot of pressure on your midsection to keep your rolls in check, it also restricts circulation to your lower body. Over time, if you wear these garments frequently, you may develop a condition called meralgia paresthetica, with symptoms like numbness, pain, and tingling in your legs and feet.

Varicose Veins or Blood Clots

Unfortunately, compression garments can also affect your vein health. When your midsection is on lock down, it’s tough for blood to get down to your legs and feet (see above.) But it’s also tough for the blood already in your lower extremities to get back up to your heart when it has to pass through the compression zone. That means blood can pool in your lower body, putting pressure on your veins until they bulge and become visible through your skin (spider veins.)  With repetitive wears, the damage to your veins may be cumulative, and may even increase your risk of blood clots, since varicose veins are a risk factor for DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of your legs.)

Dangers of DVT

This last danger of Spanx is a big one. According to the American Heart Association, 2.5 Million Americans suffer from DVT each year. And, of those people, 600,000 end up in the hospital. Your DVT risk is highest if you’re over 60, but this potentially life-threatening condition can strike at any age. For that reason, if you have any DVT risk factors, including long flights or road trips, age, venous insufficiency and, yes, wearing Spanx, our office is happy to offer DVT screenings.

Stay Safe and Smooth with Shapewear

Now, we know how great your shapewear is, so we’re not telling you to throw it out the window. Instead, we’re suggesting caution. Don’t wear compressive garments all day, every day: instead, leave them for special events with limited hours. And when you are wearing them, give your circulatory system and veins a little help by taking walking breaks: the movement will get your leg muscles pumping, which can help get blood flowing into and out of your legs.

And remember: if you have any symptoms, follow these important steps. Stop wearing your Spanx right away, and see if your symptoms improve. Then, if you still notice issues, call the office right away for an immediate appointment.

Sources:: American Heart Association

Here’s How to Protect Your Veins While Working From Home

If you’re new to the work-from-home game, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, you need to protect know this: your vein health is at risk. Unlike office settings, when we’re home, most of us aren’t set up to work in positions that protect our veins from the challenges of poor posture and all-day sitting.

In little bursts, that’s not a big deal. But as the weeks stretch out, and we spend more time working at home, these little problems can become major ones. In fact, slumping and sitting all day can cause blood to pool in your legs. This stretches out your vessels, impacts circulation and leads to varicose veins and other symptoms of vein disease. Those additional risks include DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in the deep veins of your legs), plus other, also risky clots.

Want to avoid these complications? We can help! Just follow our top tips for safely working at home.

Preventing Blood Clots working from home raises blood clot risk

When working properly, your blood clots to protect you from excessive bleeding after a cut or injury. But, sometimes, your blood clots when it’s not supposed to, and that can pose a serious threat to your health. As we mentioned, sitting or even standing for too long can make your blood pool. And that can raise your risk for clotting.

Now, when they form on your surface veins, blood clots aren’t typically dangerous. Actually, when you have varicose veins, you probably already have blood clots. But you’ll also have a higher risk of developing clots in your deep veins, buried well below the surface of your legs.

These clots can cause pain and swelling, and may even break off and travel to your lungs, creating a pulmonary embolism. (A life threatening condition.) Also, blood clots may form in your brain, and that can be immediately life threating. So, if you weakness in your limbs, drooping facial features, or slurring words, seek immediate medical attention.

Of course, it’s crucial to stay aware of the warning signs of blood clots. But it’s also critical to prevent problems. So follow our important tips for protecting your veins while working from home.

5 Stay Healthy Hacks for Working from Home

Standing Desk

These tips will help prevent aches, pains and additional tolls on your vein health:

1. Optimize your computer screen height

Now that you’re working at home, it’s tempting to work in bed, or on your couch. But that can lead to poor posture and pressure on your veins! To protect yourself, set up your screen so that you can view it straight on, without having to look down, or twist your head left or right. Put your screen in front of you at a comfortable viewing height. Even if you’ve got to get a phone book to raise the height, it’s worth it. Why? Viewing your screen straight on will protect your posture and help you avoid back and neck pain.

2. Touch your chair backing

Your chair’s got a backing for a reason—to give you support. When you sit up too straight, or hunch forward over your desk, you’re putting pressure on your spine, either forcing it to work too hard or causing it to curve in unnatural shapes.

When you rest against your chair back, however, you support your spine’s natural curve. Plus, this position allows your chair to take on some of your body weight, which means there’s less pressure on your feet. And, with less pressure on your feet, your blood flows freely and you experience fewer vein health complications!

Finding it tough to sit back that far with comfort? No sweat! Simply extend the back of your chair by adding a cushion or towel to the chair. This will feel good on your back while ensuring you receive the benefits of proper seated posture.

3. Support your feet

When you’re sitting in that chair, your feet should be flat on the floor. And if they don’t reach? Well, you’ve got to help make sure they do, by placing books, blocks or even cushions beneath your feet.

Why is this step so crucial? Leaving your feet dangling is a major roadblock for your circulation. It puts excessive pressure on your thighs, interferes with your lower body blood flow, and raises your risk for blood clots—especially a potentially life-threatening DVT.

4. Minimize standing

Maybe you switched to a standing desk at your office. (If you did, check out our standing desk warnings here.) And maybe you want to try to do the same at home. But here’s the deal: while sitting all day is terrible for your health, standing all day isn’t much better.

Staying on your feet for hours at a time puts tons of pressure on your feet, raising your risk for varicose veins. It puts tons of pressure on your circulatory system, which could even impact the health of your arteries and heart.

So, while we applaud the desire to avoid all-day sitting and work more movement into your day, standing up isn’t the answer. Instead, follow our previous safe-sitting suggestions. And look to our final tip for ways to prevent all-day sitting disease.

5. Take Moving Breaks

Sitting or standing all day is a bad idea. When you’re at the office, it’s easy to move by building bathroom breaks and water cooler trips into your day. You can also opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or even walk over to a colleague’s desk instead of sending an email.

But at home? It’s a lot tougher to keep moving. So, to avoid the pitfalls of sedentary living, you’ll have to work a little bit harder. Set reminders for yourself to get up and walk around every 30 minutes. Circle your living room, climb the stairs…it doesn’t really matter, as long as you take some steps and get your blood pumping out of those legs and back to the heart. This should help protect your vein health during these safe-at-home moments.

If, however, you’re already noticing signs of a brewing vein problem, like dark or bulging veins, leg cramps, or changes in skin color? Don’t wait to seek treatment! Our vein specialists can help you right now, so make an immediate appointment with our office. Because, here’s the deal: vein problems are progressive. Delay treatment today, and you’ll face a bigger problem next month, next week or even tomorrow!

Sources: Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, AARP

DVT and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Here’s what you need to know about DVT and pregnancy. A Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of your body. These deep veins are exactly what they sound like: situated deep inside your body, far away from your skin’s surface. Because the veins aren’t visible, a clot could form unnoticed. And if it doesn’t get treated, it could break free from its initial position, travelling through the circulatory system and ending up in other parts of your body. If that happens, you could be facing a life-threatening medical emergency, especially if the clot travels to your lungs (also known as a pulmonary embolism.)

Many factors can elevate your risk of DVT, including long plane flights, surgery and your age.

Today, we also know that COVID-19 increases your risk for blood clots and DVT, even if your initial symptoms were relatively mild.

Of course, even with vaccines now available, pregnancy probably feels frightening. You may be worried about delivering during the times of Coronavirus, and we aren’t here to scare you.

Still, today, we’re going to look at the connection between pregnancy and your risk for DVT. In that way, you can  protect your vein health during this very different time. When you are pregnant, the blood-clotting factors in your body fluctuate, making clotting more likely. In fact, most pregnant women have a DVT rate that is five-times higher than when they are not expecting. And this elevated risk is a very big deal: DVT is one of the leading killers for pregnant women; your DVT risk is highest in your third trimester and for the first week after delivering your baby.

So, now that you understand your DVT risk during pregnancy, let’s examine the ways in which we can protect your health.

Managing Your DVT Risk During Pregnancy

If you already had a history of blood clots before getting pregnant, your doctor may suggest taking blood thinners while you are expecting. But if you are an otherwise-healthy woman, making smart lifestyle choices during pregnancy can help manage your risk for DVT. Following a healthy diet, and preventing gestational diabetes, can help lower your DVT risk, since being overweight can also increase your likelihood for DVT. Sticking to a regular, doctor-approved exercise program can also help lower your risk for DVT.

Of course, there are never guarantees when it comes to clot prevention. So, if you are pregnant and concerned about clotting, we invite you to discuss your DVT risk with one of our Houston-area vein specialists! Concerned about coming to the office for an in-person visit? Don’t worry: we offer Telemedicine appointments for your comfort and safety. But, whether virtually or in our office, we urge you not to wait to address blood clot concerns. If you think you have a DVT, call our office and request an immediate appointment. We’ll see you right away, and decide if you need to head directly to the emergency room!

 

Sources: Journal Radiology,

Staying Home Ups DVT Risk: Here’s What to Do

When do you have to worry about DVT risk? Well, you develop deep vein thrombosis (deep vein thrombosis ()DVT) when a blood clot forms in one of your deep veins. (This usually occurs in your legs). And DVT is a serious problem, more dangerous than other blood clots. Why? Because it comes with a high risk of recurrence, death, or chronic symptoms like pain and swelling.

But why do you develop DVT in the first place? Many factors contribute to this problem, but lack of movement is a big contributor (that’s why your DVT risk is high on long flights.) And, as we stayed home more, limiting our activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, that could be a problem. Even as COVID rates drop, the world has changed. Work from home will be much more common, and that’s concerning in some ways. Especially if you already have vein disease.

Thankfully, even taking a walk outside, and limiting your salty snacks, could help reduce your water retention and lower your DVT risk. Plus, we have several new and proven ways to treat your DVT. So just keep reading to learn more about what your life will look like, even if you develop a DVT.

New Microchip Predicts DVT Risk

Researchers at Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering have developed a miniaturized version a human vein called the Vein-Chip device. And they believe it will help doctors predict your DVT risk.

Basically, the Vein-Chip allows researchers to test various risk factors, including gender, race, ethnicity and more, to see how they impact DVT risk. The hope is that this technology will help our fellow vein specialists personalize your DVT treatment protocols.

Lead study author Abhishek Jain, Ph.D  and his team have already made an important discovery that may impact post DVT treatment. Basically, they found that when you’re healthy, and your blood flow slows down, your body may try to adapt by releasing anti-clotting factors. This adaptation only happens within your vein pocket, which suggests that we should deliver clot dissolving medications directly to your affected areas.

That’s one exciting development in DVT prevention and treatment protocols. Because, with targeted anti-clotting therapy, we could prevent dangerous bleeding episodes. So, now that we’ve discovered some new tech developments, let’s explore some other key findings.

What’s the Best Treatment Plan after a DVT?

According to a study published in the journal Blood, people with DVT can easily cut their risk of complications. How? It’s simple: just start compression therapy within 24 hours. compression socks

The study explored whether compression therapy could prevent residual vein occlusion and post thrombotic syndrome. What do those terms means? Residual vein occlusion is when clots stay in your veins, with or without symptoms. That’s a big deal, since it likely contributes to  post-thrombotic syndrome, which is just a collection of symptoms. These include pain, swelling, discoloration and leg scaling.

For this study, 600 DVT patients in the Netherlands received compression therapy within 24 hours of their diagnosis. Next, they were compared to patients that started that compression therapy later on. In addition to their compression therapy, all patients received anti-clotting medications.

What researchers found was promising: Patients who got immediate compression therapy were 20% less likely to develop residual vein occlusion and 8% less likely to suffer post-thrombotic syndrome compared with those who delayed compression.

Even better news? Compression therapy was not associated with any adverse side effects. And while all DVT patients appeared to benefit from compression, those with clots lower down in the leg enjoyed the greatest results.

Study author Dr. ten Cate-Hoek says, “Although the use of compression stockings after DVT is routine across much of Europe, it is less common in the United States, where guidelines emphasize compression primarily for patients who complain of ongoing symptoms…Given these outcomes, and that compression stockings are fairly easy to self-administer, relatively inexpensive, and minimally intrusive, compression therapy offers a clear benefit for all patients with DVT.”

Have you been diagnosed with DVT, and now you need to manage your care? Our Houston area vein specialists are here to help. Contact our office for an immediate appointment. We can help you protect your health with compression therapy, or any other treatments that may be necessary after we complete your evaluation.

Sources: Medical Dialogues, Blood Journal,

Request an AppointmentRequest Appointment