Tag: vein treatments

Diabetes and PAD: How We Prevent Lost Limbs

Diabetes and PAD make 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. 

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.

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

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.

Pregnancy and Varicose Veins: What You Need to Know

Varicose Veins & Pregnancy

Today, let’s talk pregnancy and varicose veins: the struggle is real. When you first get pregnant, people will prepare you for a lot of things. From nausea and cravings to fatigue and mood swings, chances are you probably think you’ve heard it all. If only that were true.

For as many as 70% of expectant mothers, varicose veins can come as a somewhat frightening surprise. After all, the last thing you want to see during your pregnancy are unexpected (and unwanted) surprises on your body!

What’s worse? Those veins may not stick on your legs. Many pregnant women develop varicose veins of the vulva. Or they get hemorrhoids, which are actually varicose veins in the rectum.

However, there’s no need to worry: while varicose veins may be uncomfortable, they are not dangerous for you or your pregnancy. Learn more about what causes varicose veins during pregnancy, and what you can do to solve the problem safely.

Why Do Pregnant Women get Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins around the legs, breasts, rectum, and vulva are a very common side effect of pregnancy. Because it now has another being to support, your body produces more blood during pregnancy, which can result in added pressure on your blood vessels.

Effects on your breasts

Spider veins on your breasts may appear as your blood volume increases during your pregnancy. They’ll likely appear in your first trimester, and may continue during breastfeeding. At that time, the milk in your breasts can make the veins more visible, but they should fade when your baby weans. 

Now, if you also notice pain, redness or fever, you may have an infection called mastitis. This can develop if bacteria enters your milk duct, and can be serious if you don’t seek immediate treatment.

Lower Body Pregnancy Effects

This effect is particularly pronounced near your lower body, as your legs are responsible for working against gravity to deliver the extra blood to your heart. This blood also moves more slowly than normal, increasing the pressure placed on the veins and causing them to bulge. In addition to bulging veins, the extra blood has been known to cause hemorrhoids and swollen vulva.

It may sound strange, but the varicose veins in your vagina are a common effect of pregnancy. They are caused by increased blood flow to your vagina, and also by your growing uterus, which puts pressure on those veins. Plus, increased production of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy is also a contributing factor to the development of varicose veins. Wherever they may pop up.

Addressing Leg Swelling

Of course, varicose veins aren’t the only troubling pregnancy side effect. So many women also develop swollen legs and ankles. In fact, the two symptoms often go hand-in-hand. And they’re triggered by the same problem: extra weight puts more pressure on your lower extremities. That pressure makes it harder for blood, and other fluids, to leave your legs and return to your heart, so your veins and legs often swell from the extra fluid.

Fortunately, there’s one common solution to both these issues: compression socks. When you wear compression socks while you’re pregnant, they can offer pain relief by encouraging proper blood flow. These compression socks can also help prevent edema (swelling) as well as varicose veins. But what if you’ve already noticed these pesky veins popping up? Just keep reading to find out your next best steps.

Treating Varicose Veins in Pregnancy compression socks and pregnancy

While your varicose veins pose no risk to you or your child during pregnancy, they are unsightly and can be somewhat painful. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe, all-natural options for alleviating discomfort until they recede naturally.

  • Elevate Your Legs: When you have some time to lie down and relax, try to elevate your legs above your heart for about 15 minutes. This will help the blood recirculate appropriately, and is most effective if done at least three or four times a day. To maintain results, consider wearing compression stockings during the day.
  • Practice Proper Sitting: Try not to cross your legs, or sit on your feet, to preserve blood flow.
  • Sleep on your left side. This can promote better blood flow. Add offer a number of other benefits. 
  • Watch weight gain: Being overweight increases your varicose vein risk. Your doctor can suggest a healthy, targeted weight gain based on your pre-pregnancy Body-Mass Index (BMI).
  • Try Warm Baths. These can be especially soothing to varicose veins in your vagina. But stay away from hot baths, as they can be dangerous for your baby.
  • Stay Mobile: While being pregnant can zap your energy, staying active is essential to preventing and alleviating varicose veins. Hardcore gym trips aren’t necessary; simply work in a few walks or some light cardio each day to promote stronger circulation during pregnancy.
  • Skip Tight Clothing: That’s especially important around your stomach, waist and legs, since snug fits can restrict your blood flow.
  • Sleep On Your Left Side: While it might take some getting used to, sleeping on your left side comes with a number of health benefits, including the reduction of varicose veins and an increase in blood flow to the fetus. Sleeping on your left side reduces the amount of pressure put on the vena cava, your body’s largest vein, which is located on the right side of your body.
  • Take Your Vitamins: A healthy diet rich in vitamin C can work wonders for improving vein health during pregnancy, by providing your body with the tools it needs to generate collagen and repair damaged blood vessels.

After-Baby Solutions

In most cases, varicose veins fade on their own once pregnancy has ended…but sometimes, that just isn’t the case. While surgical vein treatments are not safe during pregnancy, they could be your best option for removing varicose veins after you’ve welcomed your child.

If you’re ready to fight back against varicose veins, Texas Endovascular offers a number of varicose treatment options to ensure that you receive the right results for your exact needs. Our procedures are minimally invasive, require only local anesthesia, and can be performed conveniently in-office. Discover what Texas Endovascular can do for your post-pregnancy body, and schedule your consultation today.

Sources: Kidspot, Baby Gaga, American Pregnancy Association

Request an AppointmentRequest Appointment