Tag: Houston vein specialists

Diabetes and PAD: How We Prevent Lost Limbs

This week, we marked World Diabetes Day, and that’s why you need to know about Diabetes and PAD, a dangerous combination. After all, Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) limits your blood flow. Then, high blood sugar levels can also compromise your blood flow. (And cause nerve damage, which makes you lose feeling in your extremities.) In combination, these factors mean that even small wounds can turn into big infections. At that point, your diabetic ulcer could put you at risk for amputation.

At this point, that possibility is a big problem. According to a new study from Kaiser Health News, this country is facing an epidemic of diabetic foot amputations. In California alone, between 2011 and 2017, 82,000 individuals lost limbs due to diabetic complications.

Limb Loss and Diabetes

As we mentioned, diabetics lose their limbs for a number of reasons.  The disease can raise sugar levels in the bloodstream, which in turn can affect circulation and cause organ damage. Also, according to a new study in the journal Diabetes, the disease damages your red blood cells. Specifically, the disease reduces small molecule microRNA-210 in those cells. And, since those molecules help regulate your vascular function, this may contribute to your risk of diabetic limb loss.

Diabetics also often experience reduced sensation in the extremities (neuropathy), which can threaten limbs in two ways. People with circulatory and nerve damage may not know when they injured their limbs. And, because they have compromised blood circulation, even minor injuries can be slow to heal. Over time, and without routine medical care, these untreated, unhealed injuries become deep wounds (ulcers). Once ulcers develop, diabetics are at immediate risk of losing part of or all of the affected limb.

Unfortunately, matters get worse when you factor in racial inequities. In fact, according to new information revealed in the Circulation journal, Black adults over 50 are at least twice as likely to suffer from PAD as their white peers. They’re also more likely to seek treatment for more advanced disease, and more likely to experience adverse outcomes such as amputation or even death.

Many Amputations are Avoidable

While all the statistics in the study were scary, there’s one fact we, as Houston vein specialists, found particularly scary: many of these amputations would have been avoidable with routine medical care. And, it showed that people who were black or Hispanic were twice as likely to face an amputation, due in large part to inadequate access to care.

So that’s the bad news that we took away from this study, but here’s something that can make you feel more at ease: with proper preventative care, you can keep your diabetes in good control. This can help you prevent devastating complications like amputations.

Cholesterol, Diabetes and PAD

What kind of preventative vein care do we recommend for diabetics? Diabetes can damage your blood vessels (veins, arteries and/or capillaries), causing your body to deposit cholesterol within the vessels in the hopes of preventing further damage.

Now, cholesterol is a waxy substance that occurs naturally in your cells. Your liver also makes cholesterol, or you take in cholesterol from your food. While you may not know this, your body actually needs some cholesterol to function. After all, cholesterol is involved in making vitamin D, your sex hormones, and steroid hormones such as cortisol. Plus, some cholesterol gets converted to bile acids in your body. And you need those acids to absorb vitamins a, d, e and k. In other words, you need a little bit of cholesterol to stay healthy.

But the problems start when your cholesterol levels rise. Because, unfortunately, cholesterol can build up. Then, deposits can clog your arteries, causing a condition known as atherosclerosis. (That’s when your arteries narrow, or harden. It’s what causes PAD, leaving you at risk of heart-related complications.) And that’s where specialists like Drs. Fox, Hardee and Valenson can help: using interventional radiology techniques, we can remove blockages and help restore your blood flow.

Improved blood flow will reduce your risk of ulcers, help heal existing wounds, and go a long way towards preventing limb loss. Plus, it can help relieve other symptoms of PAD, including pain when you walk, hair loss and skin changes. Even better? Choosing minimally invasive PAD treatment can do more to prevent limb loss.

Amputations, PCBs and Peripheral Arteries

A new review from the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery suggests that widening your arteries using paclitaxel-coated balloons (PCBs) ups your risk for major amputation. Fortunately, in our office, we can also treat PAD with stents or atherectomy, so you have your choice of limb-saving options. Which, along with diabetes care, may help you preserve your long-term health.

Plus, we’re following new developments in treating PAD. One exciting possibility? LimFlow Inc. is developing a Percutaneous Deep Vein Arterilization System. Basically, it’s a minimally invasive device that can bypass blockages in your leg arteries to boost blood flow.

What’s their goal? To help interventional radiologists like the ones on our team help blood get back to your feet and legs. That way, we can resolve your PAD symptoms, heal any leg ulcers, and improve your quality of life. And, while we’re waiting for more date, initial results from the company’s clinical device trials show that 77% of patients avoided amputations,  85% enjoyed complete wound healing, and 92% of patients started or completed healing.

Diabetes and Varicose Veins

Diabetes and PAD aren’t your only concern: this disease can impact your veins as well. If your blood sugar levels stay elevated for too long, that can damage your blood vessels. Typically, the first blood vessels to experience damage are the ones in your leg. As a result, uncontrolled diabetes can increase your risk for varicose veins.

What does all this mean for you? Well, if you have diabetes, make sure you keep up appointments with your regular medical team. (And make sure to address any circulatory problems right away.)  If you’ve got reduced blood flow or atherosclerosis, make an appointment with our team of experts right away. Doing so might just be the decision you make that saves your limbs!

 

Sources: Greatist , Kaiser Health news, diabetes.co.uk

How to Improve Circulation and 6 Signs You Need to Do It

Sometimes, you just need some help to boost circulation. You may know that poor circulation can put your vein health at risk. But would you know if your circulation was already compromised? As it turns out, there are several early symptoms that you’ll notice when your circulation first becomes compromised. And we’re here to help you identify those warnings signs, so you can see your vein specialist and get help to boost circulation right away.

Symptoms of Poor Circulation

When your circulation is sluggish, or not working as well as it should, you may notice that:

·         Your hands and feet are often cold, or even numb

·        Muscle cramps pop up, especially in your legs

·         You experience tingling, throbbing or stinging leg pain

·         There’s a blue tint to the skin on your legs

·         The hair on your legs and feet may fall out

·        Nails get brittle and skin is dry

When your circulation is compromised, your metabolism may slow down. And that means you may gain weight, even if your diet and exercise routine remains the same.

Now you know some of the warning signs of poor circulation, let’s explore what causes those problems, and learn  how you can give your circulatory system a boost.

What Causes Poor Circulation? spider veins on legs

Many different issues can compromise your circulation. But certain conditions will almost certainly impact your blood flow. We’ll take a look at the three worst offenders.

  • Varicose veins

    These bulging veins usually develop when your internal valves malfunction.  That failure keeps blood from flowing up and out of your legs, towards your heart. It’s an obvious cause and symptom of poor circulation.

  • Diabetes

    As your blood sugar levels are high, you can develop clogs in your blood vessel. This, in turn, will impact your circulation.

  • Obesity

    Indirectly, carrying extra weight makes movement more challenging. And when movement is challenging, you become more sedentary, which can decrease your circulation. Extra pounds also put more pressure on your legs—and the veins inside them—increasing your risk of varicose veins.

So, now you’ve seen some of the issues that can make problems for your circulatory system, let’s figure out how to boost your circulation!

How to Improve Circulation

The most important way to protect your circulation is to live a healthy lifestyle. And that includes dropping your nicotine habit if you smoke or vape. Why is that so crucial? Nicotine hits your circulatory system with a two-part punch: first, it thickens your blood, which slows down its flow. Plus, it causes your blood vessels to narrow, which makes it even more difficult for blood to circulate through your body.

Of course, not smoking is important, but on its own, this step won’t completely protect you from circulatory problems. You should also strive to maintain a healthy blood pressure—have your levels checked regularly by your doctor, and strive to maintain a reading of 120 over 80 (or lower.) If you aren’t in that optimal range, discuss ways of lowering your pressure with your healthcare provider.

Lifestyle Changes to Boost Circulation

Certain lifestyle habits can also help improve your circulation—especially good hydration. Since your blood is about half water, staying hydrated helps keep it flowing through your body. It’s also important to move frequently throughout your day. Sitting or standing in one spot for extended periods of time takes a major toll on your circulation. Simply taking more walking breaks can do wonders, but consider stepping up your aerobic exercise by incorporating regular 30 minute sessions into your weekly routine. Swimming and biking are great, low-impact options.

Adding stretching to your routine can also help! Stretching out different areas of your body helps send blood to your various muscle groups, so start your day with a five-minute stretch session, or build quick stretch breaks into your day.

And here’s a great (and relaxing) way to boost circulation: get a massage! With a medically-approved massage, gentle rubbing in areas where your blood pools could boost circulation. Thanks to moderate pressure, that blood may get moving, and that could improve circulation to the rest of your body.

Circulation Boosting Diet and Gear

Your diet matters, too, when it comes to circulation. Eat lots of fruits and veggies, and carefully monitor (and limit) your salt intake. Other foods that can improve circulation include garlic, ginger, turmeric, fatty fish and raw, dark chocolate. But you should also limit (or avoid) the saturated fats found in many cheeses and animal proteins, as they can lead to fatty build-ups in your arteries, which will further hamper circulation. Try adding green tea to your diet if you need to boost circulation. As few as two cups a day could relax your blood vessels. This could, in turn, widen them and help boost circulation and blood flow.

And, finally, if circulation problems are already seriously impacting your health, you may want to avoid tight clothing such as Spanx or skinny jeans. Additionally, you may want to begin compression therapy. This sounds scarier than it actually is. In fact, this form of therapy involves the regular wearing of compression stockings. These simple pieces of clothing (which now come in a variety of styles and colors) put a little pressure on your legs to help get blood out of the area and back up to your heart.  This can improve your circulation and limit many of the symptoms associated with circulatory problems, like spider veins or heavy, achy legs.

 

If left untreated, circulatory problems can cause you to experience serious health problems. But if you take note of early warning signals and seek treatment from your Houston vein specialists, you can improve your circulation and avoid or even reverse any associated complications!

 

Sources: SCNow.com, University Herald, Bel Marra Health

CVI, Chronic Venous Insufficiency: What You Need to Know

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

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

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

Symptoms of CVI

Some symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include:

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

What Causes Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing CVI:

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

Exercises that Help

 

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

Walking

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

Leg Lifts

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

Calf Raises

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

Swimming

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

Vein Healthy Yoga Poses

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

 

Treating CVI in Houston

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

Medications

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

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

Preventing Vein Insufficiency

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

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

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

Sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Check out 9 Reasons Why Your Feet Swell

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

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

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

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

What About Lymphedema? why do my feet swell

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

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

9 Reasons Your Feet Swell That Aren’t Vein Disease

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

  1. Your Feet Swell After a Long Flight or Drive

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

  2. Your Feet Swell Because you’re Sedentary

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

  3. You’ve Been Slamming Salty Snacks

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

  4. You’re Hurt

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

  5. You’re Taking A New Medication

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

  6. You’re Developing a DVT

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

  7. You’ve Got Arthritis

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

  8. Heart or Kidney Problems are Brewing

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

  9. Liver Disease

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

 

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

Sources: Foot Pain Explored

How Can I Tell if My Wound Won’t Heal?

If you have vein health concerns, you may find your wound won’t heal. In fact, have you recently noticed a cut or scrape on your leg that seems to have been there for a while? Are you starting to wonder if it will ever go away? You may have developed an ulcer—and this wound won’t heal without medical intervention. Here’s how to know if your cut or scrape is more than just a surface injury.

What Exactly is an Ulcer?

Everyone gets wounds at some point in their lives: they are just injuries that damage your skin, exposing the tissue that lies beneath. When your body is working properly, these wounds are no big deal. They usually heal on their own, although topical creams can speed up your recovery time.

Sometimes, however, that’s not the case. If your injury hasn’t mostly healed within a month, chances are you have a non-healing wound (ulcer.) This is especially likely if you have a condition, like varicose veins or diabetes, that has compromised your blood circulation.

If you do have an ulcer, it’s a big problem: in fact, if you don’t seek treatment for ulcers, you could end up with serious medical complications. You could even lose your affected limb.

Signs Your Wound Won’t Heal

So, aside from timing, how can you know if you have a non-healing wound? Chances are, you’ll notice other symptoms at the site of your wound, including:

·         Redness

·         Swelling

·         Numbness

·         Pain

·         Discharge

·         Odor

You may also develop a fever with your infection.

How Can I Treat My Ulcer?

If you suspect you’ve got a non-healing wound, don’t panic: your vein specialists can help. We can make sure that your wound is being cared for, with debridement (removing dead or infected tissue), proper dressings to keep the area clean and protected, pressure, and applicable medications. We will also work to address any underlying vascular issues that may have contributed to the problem.

The key to recovering from ulcers is to seek medical help as soon as you identify a problem. So, if you have compromised circulation, pay special attention to any cuts or nicks on your body. And if you notice any ulcer symptoms, make an appointment with our office right away. The sooner we see you, the better your chances of recovering with all your limbs intact.

Check out the Gel and Bandage that Could Cure Leg Ulcers

If you have untreated vascular disease, you could develop leg ulcers. These open sores often develop just above your ankle, on the inside of your leg. But, what causes them to develop? When your veins aren’t functioning well—as is the case if you’ve got varicose veins —the pressure inside those veins can build up rapidly. And, if that pressure isn’t relieved, it can damage your skin, leaving you with open sores. Plus, once those sores develop, they are slower to heal.  Why? The answer lies in your circulation problems.

Without getting enough oxygen-rich blood, the skin on your legs can’t regenerate as well as it should. And this can make it harder for wounds to heal. Which is why, as Houston vein specialists, we’re very excited about a newly developed wound treatment. And a new bandage that can detect wound healing. Want to hear the coolest part? The former is developed from blood! And the latter does its work wirelessly!

Using Blood to Speed Up Wound Healing Fish Oil

According to a study in Advances in Skin and Wound Care, researchers at the University of Manchester have developed a gel, made from blood, that’s speeding up healing times for ulcers. Typically, these ulcers take at least three months to heal but, studies show that for at least 14% of patients, wounds are still a problem one whole year later. And, for others, the wounds just don’t heal, making it necessary to amputate.

For all these reasons, a new, faster wound treatment is a very big deal. So, how does the new gel work? Doctors take a little more than a teaspoon of your own blood and spin it around in a piece of equipment called a centrifuge.

While your blood spins, your plasma gets separated from the other parts of your blood. Plasma is rich in platelets, and platelet are full of ‘growth factors’ that boost your body’s healing. Once your plasma has been isolated, it gets mixed with a few other compounds, and, in about 30 seconds, it takes on a gel form. Your doctor puts that gel on your wound right away, and then covers the area with a bandage to help your wound heal faster.

But, you may be wondering, just how effective is the gel? Forty-eight percent of patients treated with gel had full wound healing, compared to 30% of patients treated with other methods. And, even more exciting news: the healing time was cut in half! Wounds had shrunk by 50% in 21 days for patients using the gel. Patients not using the gel had to wait 42 days to get that same result.

While the gel is still being studied, the results are certainly exciting. We can’t wait to learn more about this therapy, which harnesses your own body’s potential to self-heal!

Detecting Wound Healing with a Wireless Bandage

Scientists at the National University of Singapore just developed a wearable sensor that wirelessly assesses your wound through an app. It can test the temperature, pH, bacteria type and inflammation levels in your ulcer. And it can do so in just 15 minutes, meaning you get fast accurate results. Without disturbing the wound dressing!  Or, in many cases, without forcing you to make the long trip into your doctor’s office.

Changing the Game

Wireless wound assessment reflects a major treatment turning point. Right now, we have to visually inspect ulcers, often collecting fluid from your wounds to help decide the most effective treatment options. The process takes a few days. And it means we need to dress and undress your open sore, which can slow the healing process since it disturbs the sensitive tissue.

But with VeCare, this new bandage, we’d dress your ulcer with one layer that touches your wound. Then, a breathable barrier covers that layer, with an electronic chip, a fluid collector and a flexible immunosensor forming the top layer. The combination allows us to quickly track your wound’s healing and drive treatment choices. All without leaving you open to infection.

Currently, this bandage isn’t available for mass distribution. But the research team is working on rolling their bandage out to the public. And our team of Houston vein specialists will keep you posted when it becomes available.

Leg Ulcers care in Houston, TX

For now, know that our team of vein specialists offers the latest in personalized wound care. Even better, we offer preventative vein treatments, so you never develop leg ulcers in the first place. Ready to take control of your vein health? Schedule a consultation at one of our vein centers today, with locations in Houston, Katy, Clear Lake, Sugar Land and the Woodlands!

 

 

 

 

Tech Alert: VR Vein Treatments Can Help Save Your Veins

Did you know that VR tech vein treatments are here to heal you? That’s very exciting! Because, as Houston area vein doctors, we’ve helped pioneer the art of minimally invasive vein treatments. We navigate catheters through your delicate veins. And that lets us treat conditions like varicose veins and peripheral arterial disease. Which is important, since the American Heart Association just released a scientific statement saying we need to pay better attention to PAD diagnostics and care!

In our office, we treat these conditions by relying on 2-D images, usually from X-rays. They stay in front of us during procedures, help guide the way through to blockages or areas that need repair. But now, thanks to a new development in technology, all that may be about to change! 

VR Tech Vein Treatments

There’s a new catheter, developed at the University of Washington. It’s fitted with electromagnetic sensors that feed real-time imaging from inside your blood vessels to a virtual reality headset. If approve, it would help make interventional radiology procedures far more precise.

How could it do so? Well, it would help doctors operate with three-dimensional guides. In fact, the electromagnetic sensors could accurately capture the size and shape of the blood vessels as the tool travels through them.

But it wouldn’t just make procedures more precise. In fact, VR tech vein treatments could help protect doctors AND patients from repeat exposure to radiation. How? Well, by eliminating the need for x-ray technology during minimally invasive vein procedures! And, as an added bonus, VR is cheaper and more transportable than older forms of tech. So life-saving vein treatments could become more accessible to patients living outside of major metro areas and far away from vein centers like Texas Endovascular.

We are eagerly awaiting the device’s approval from the Food and Drug Administration. So we’ll keep our readers posted on this and other new developments in vein health and treatments. It is always our honor to bring patients the newest, safest and most precise vein treatments in the Greater Houston area. Which is why we urge you to make an immediate appointment with our team if you have any symptoms of vein disease or PAD.

That Pain in Your Legs? It Could Mean a Blood Flow Problem

So many people are quick to brush off a little pain in your legs. But that tendency is the reason so many people with peripheral artery disease (PAD) have delayed or missed diagnoses.  You see, PAD is a condition that develops slowly and with few symptoms. Inside your body, your blood vessels are slowly narrowing due to atherosclerosis, a build-up of fatty deposits that keeps enough blood and oxygen from getting to your legs. And it’s that lack of oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood which can make your legs feel uncomfortable and crampy. Which in turn is why you should never ignore leg pain that appears for no apparent reason.

Now you know why ignoring leg pain can be so dangerous to your health. Next, let’s take a closer look at ways you can increase the flow of blood to your lower extremities.

Reduce Pain in Legs with Improved Blood Flow

If you want to avoid PAD, or reduce existing symptoms, your best bet is to keep your arteries and blood vessels clear of blockages. You also need to work on improving your blood circulation.

The first step in this process? Get moving! Physical activity encourages blood flow. Plus, it helps you maintain a healthy weight, which can also help your body provide sufficient blood to your extremities.

Still, moving more isn’t enough. Diet is also a crucial part of preventing atherosclerosis, the “hardening of the arteries” that causes PAD. That’s because, through a healthy diet, many individuals may be able to lower their cholesterol levels. And high cholesterol is linked to the build-up of plaque in your arteries. (Keep in mind that some people may require medication to lower cholesterol levels. Discuss all changes to your diet with your healthcare provider.)

How important is your diet to your PAD risk? Well, according to recent research, eating legumes, dietary fiber, and vegetable protein significantly lowers your PAD risk. At the same time, eating all kinds of red meats, processed meats, and/or sugary soft drinks upped your risk by a lot.

So, what does that mean for you? Regardless of whether or not you also need medication, people with PAD should focus on proper nutrition. As it turns out, many of the foods you eat can actually help improve your blood flow and boost the health of your veins and arteries.

Foods That Boost Blood Flow

If you’re worried about blood flow, take a peek at your diet. Try adding beets and beetroot juice–their nitrate content converts into nitric oxide, which improves blood pressure and blood flow. Onions and garlic are also great choices because they help relax your blood vessels. Want a protein option? Fatty fish, rich in omega-3s, boosts blood flow by preventing blockages. 

Spices are another easy way to improve your flow: both turmeric and cayenne are helpful. Rounding out the diet powerhouse? Include pomegranate, oats, beans, and wholegrains. Add nuts, eggplants, apples, berries and citrus fruit, too. Before you know it, that blood will be flowing in tip-top shape!

Even if you don’t have PAD, adding these foods to your diet and increasing your weekly movement can help prevent problems. But, if your legs hurt; or if you notice changes like discolored legs or loss of hair on your legs, you may already have PAD. If that’s the case, don’t delay: make an appointment to see our Houston area PAD specialists right away. Early intervention can prevent further complications, including heart attacks and strokes!

 

These Jobs Can Increase Your Risk for Vein Disease

Living a healthy lifestyle—full of exercise and nourishing food—can go a long way towards protecting your vein and cardiovascular health. But what happens when your profession increases your risk for developing spider veins? You learn the facts and take action to keep your job from hurting your health! That’s why we’re sharing this important information.

Professions that Increase your Varicose Vein Risk Spider veins

Certain jobs can take a major toll on your veins, increasing the likelihood of problems. Some of the top professions include:

Teachers

Standing all day puts a lot of pressure on your veins. And many teachers stand in front of a class from 8 am until 3 pm, with very few opportunities to sit and rest. Want to minimize your risk? Take a quick trip to the teacher’s lounge and sit down, with your feet up, whenever possible.

Wait staff

Waiters and restaurant hosts stay on their feet for their entire shifts. And while waiters at least have the benefit of walking between tables and the kitchen, helping pump some of the blood out of their legs, hosts stay in one spot, greeting diners as they arrive. In order to mitigate risks, try to limit shift length and give extra attention to your feet and legs on days when you’re not on the job.

Flight attendants 

Long flights take a toll on everybody’s vein health. So, imagine flying every day AND spending the majority of that flying time on your feet, serving needy passengers. People who fly for a living need to practice vein-saving, in-flight exercises (see image at right for one example) in order to minimize their risk of complications.

Office Staff

As it turns out, sitting all day isn’t so great for your vein health, either. The effects are similar to all-day standing: blood will start to pool in your feet and legs, making your valves and veins work harder to get it back up to your heart. Taking frequent walking breaks can help mitigate the risk of sitting at your computer all day.

Lowering On-the-Job Vein Health Risks

Aside from the job-specific tips we already shared, here are some other steps you can take to minimize your risk for varicose veins:

·         Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

·         Consider compression stockings to help boost circulation in your lower extremities

·         When you do sit, avoid crossing your legs

·         Elevate your feet for at least 30 minutes, every day

·         Get regular cardiovascular exercise (it doesn’t need to be high-impact. Even walking will make a major difference!) And that’s not all! Walking is also a great way to protect your arteries. In fact, a recent study in JAMA revealed that high-intensity walking can make it easier to manage PAD symptoms like pain with walking, also called claudication. (Even if your walking program hurts when you start, sticking with it can help you walk for longer before you experience pain!)

 

What to Watch for if Your Varicose Vein Risk is Elevated

If your job puts you in a higher risk category for vein disease, you should see a vein specialist if you notice any of the following symptoms:

·         Swollen lumpy veins

·         Color changes in your veins, specifically if they appear to be dark blue or purple

·         Leg pain or legs that feel heavy

 

Of course, you don’t have to see symptoms of varicose veins in order to visit our Houston area vein clinics. If you know your risk for vein disease is already elevated, proactive vein care could go a long way towards preventing negative outcomes! So reach out to our team of specialists, and request an appointment today. From a diagnostic ultrasound to thorough physical exams and treatment recommendations, we have the tools to keep your job from damaging your vein health!

 

 

Here’s Why Hot Water for PAD Relief is the Hottest Idea!

Guess what: hot water for PAD relief could be the solution you’re searching for! After all, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition that affects blood flow to your arms and legs. It can be painful, causing cramps and other discomfort, especially when you walk. But that’s not all. Studies reveal that PAD patients also have a higher risk for lung cancer. So addressing symptoms and managing your disease could actually save your life.

As Houston area vein specialists, we often recommend light exercise to help people manage PAD pain. And now, a study published in the AJP Heart and Circulatory Physiology suggests that hot water therapy may be equally effective. Of course, when we’re looking for tools to manage PAD pain, more is always better. Which is why this could be great news for PAD sufferers. Especially if you’re not yet able to exercise!

What Causes PAD?

To understand why hot water therapy helps PAD, we have to explore why you get this disease. PAD sets in when fatty buildup accumulates in your arteries. In turn, that reduces blood flow to your limbs. Then, because of reduced blood flow, you experience muscle pain while walking. (We call this symptom claudication.)  

Many PAD patients are told to manage their pain with supervised exercise. But there’s a catch: the PAD pains often make exercise too painful. That’s why this research out of New Zealand is so exciting: scientists discovered that ongoing heat therapy will improve cardiovascular health in PAD patients. Plus, it manages muscle pain and makes exercise a more likely possibility!

For their study, researchers followed two groups of adults with mild-to-moderate PAD pain. One group attended exercise sessions twice a week, during which they walked for up to 30 minutes on an indoor course and performed up to 60 minutes of circuit exercises. The other group engaged in three to five spa baths a week, submerging up to their shoulders in 102-degree water for 20 to 30 minutes. Before and after each session, researchers charted the participants’ walking ability, blood pressure, heart rate, blood volume, oxygen levels in muscle tissues, peripheral artery blood flow and function, and their overall quality of life.

What they found was exciting: both groups experienced improvements in their walking ability and blood pressure levels. In fact, the results for both groups were basically the same! In presenting their findings, the research team wrote: “Contrary to our hypothesis, there was no difference evident between the effects observed in heat therapy via spa bathing and a supervised exercise program. These findings indicate that heat therapy may be a useful alternative form of cardiovascular conditioning for individuals with PAD.”

Treating PAD in Houston

Now, exercise and hot water simply offer PAD relief. But neither option will reverse the arterial hardening that causes your PAD symptoms. Instead, you’ll need to seek official PAD treatment for long term relief.

In the past, your treatment options would have meant a long hospital stay and painful recovery. Today, we can offer treatment options such as angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy. All of these options are minimally invasive, so you can avoid open surgery. In fact, in many cases, you can go home from the hospital on the same day as your procedure.

Ready to find relief from PAD pain and a lasting solution to your symptoms? Contact our office to request an immediate appointment. From assessing your risk to diagnosing PAD and treating symptoms and your underlying disease, our Houston area specialists are here to do it all!

 

 

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