Vein Disorders

Lifestyle Tips for Vein Health

fitness woman working out on exercise bike at the gym. People who visit us for vein treatment often come to their appointments complaining of varicose veins or spider veins. Often, where there is one, there is the other. The reason is simple, both varicose veins and spider veins are symptoms of venous insufficiency. This underlying condition is one in which a vein or veins get weak. The vein may widen with excessive internal pressure or one or more of the valves in a vein no longer closes properly. Like other parts of the body, the venous valves can wear out somewhat due to a lifetime spent working 24/7. When a valve does not close all the way, blood that should be moving up and out of the leg instead moves backward. This may only be a little bit of blood at a time but, over months or years, the volume becomes enough to make the vein swollen and twisted. Once the valve has stopped closing efficiently, the pooling of blood becomes a chronic problem. If you know you are at risk of venous insufficiency and its spider and varicose veins, you need to know what to do to manage your condition well. If you do, you might be able to avoid needing periodic treatment to remove problem veins.

Do you have venous insufficiency?

If you see webs of tiny, squiggly purple, blue, and red veins on your legs, you may immediately recognize them as spider veins. This is relatively easy. Varicose veins, however, may go unnoticed for a time. Most people, when asked about the symptoms of varicose veins, answer that the veins bulge visibly. This is true, but visibility is not the only sign of varicose veins. In fact, other symptoms may occur before you ever see a bump on your skin from the swollen vein. These symptoms include:

  • Leg cramps or aching
  • Tingling or itching above the varicose vein
  • Unexplained skin discoloration that does not go away
  • Pain when standing that improves when the legs are elevated
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • A feeling of fatigue or heaviness in the legs

Venous insufficiency can become a chronic and frustrating problem if not managed well. At the first indication that a vein may not be functioning properly, it is highly beneficial to implement a few lifestyle habits.

Move Your Body More

You don’t have to be an avid fitness enthusiast to reap the rewards of daily movement. Many people find the idea of hours in a gym unthinkable and entirely unpleasant. Fortunately, the kind of exercise that is good for varicose veins is not the kind of exercise fitness gurus rave about. If you have varicose veins, what your doctor would like for you to do is walk. That’s it. Walking can do wonders for the efficient flow of blood through the legs. When you walk, your calf muscles contract and press on the veins as needed to pump blood upwards. To make the most of this lifestyle habit, walk for at least 30 minutes, at least five days a week. To increase the beneficial effects of walking, add some incline to the mix. Walking up and down even mild hills can change the way that the leg muscles contract.

Now, there are specific exercises that can be done to improve venous insufficiency. These target the calf muscles and can be done standing up, in a seated position, or lying down. They can be done in just a few minutes a day and, in some instances, even throughout the day while you’re sitting at a desk. Some examples include sitting with the feet flat on the floor and raising and lowering the heels to engage the calf muscles. Additional exercises for varicose veins can be found online.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Bodyweight is supported primarily by the legs. When there is too much weight to be supported, the veins may weaken under excessive pressure. The good news about this recommendation to manage weight is that it can be done in part by increasing physical activity. The walking that is recommended for vein health can also help you lose or maintain the best weight for your body frame. Additional tactics to manage weight may need to include some dietary changes. This can be made easier by joining a subscription-based diet program or by using a convenient smartphone app that tracks calories and other nutrients. One of the simplest ways to start losing weight is to trade take-out food for homecooked meals that consist primarily of lean meat or other healthy protein and fresh vegetables.

Limit Salt Intake

Like weight management is supported by increasing physical activity, limiting salt intake can be supported by making healthier food choices. The tricky thing about salt intake is that people who don’t add salt to their meals might think they don’t consume too much. These same people may eat packaged and processed foods every day, though, and these might contain significant amounts of sodium, which is the same thing as salt. Sodium is an ingredient used in crackers and cookies and chips. It may be found in cereals and is a component of soda, too. By changing dietary habits to include primarily fresh, whole foods, the issue of salt becomes easier to manage.

Elevate the Legs

Elevation is your legs’ best friend if you have venous insufficiency. When you lie down and rest your legs up on a wall or resting on the seat of a sofa or chair, the blood that has pooled is helped out. Elevation with the feet above the level of the heart removes the gravitational force that blood must work against to get back to the heart. Depending on your situation, you may want to elevate your legs at least once a day.

Vein health is a vital aspect of daily comfort. To consult with a vascular specialist about various vein treatments, contact Suffolk Vascular & Vein. We have offices in Port Jefferson Station, Hauppauge, and Riverhead, NY.

Could This Explain Chronic Pelvic Pain?

itching female genitalia and discomfort For the vast majority of women, aching and cramping in the pelvic area are typically associated with menstruation. However, for some women, these symptoms persist day after day, sometimes for decades. The cause could be hiding in plain sight. From our perspective, we often see chronic pelvic pain as a sign of pelvic congestion syndrome. This condition usually affects women of childbearing age, and it may present a host of unpleasant symptoms aside from pain. These include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Pain in the low back and legs
  • Painful intercourse
  • Frequent urination
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

The symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome occur because one or more pelvic veins have narrowed. This inhibits venous blood flow through the pelvic area to the lower extremities. Blood pressure increases in the pelvic venous system, resulting in discomfort. The most common underlying cause for pelvic congestion syndrome is the patient’s anatomy. The internal structure of the body, specifically the pelvic area, can make some people more susceptible to what is commonly referred to as pelvic varicose veins. The iliac vein and iliac artery cross in the pelvis. The artery is thicker and more muscular so can compress against the vein. Surgical procedures to the hip or pelvic area could also be a factor in the development of this condition.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Diagnosis and Treatment

Any person who experiences chronic pelvic pain, which lasts six months or more, should consult with their primary care physician. If pelvic pain coincides with other signs of venous insufficiency, such as varicose veins in the lower extremities, a vascular specialist should be consulted. A specialist conducts a comprehensive consultation, review of symptoms, and medical history. Diagnostic imaging may be ordered or performed in the office. This usually involves non-invasive ultrasound or venous scans, which present a clear observation of blood moving through the pelvic venous system.

If venous stenosis (narrowing) is found, treatment focuses on widening the pathway for venous circulation through the pelvis to the lower extremities to relieve hypertension and uncomfortable symptoms. Pelvic congestion syndrome may be treated with medication or a minimally invasive procedure. The specialist may first prescribe hormone therapy to control blood flow more efficiently. Surgical intervention, if needed, may include angioplasty, with or without stenting. Angioplasty is a very common vascular procedure that dilates (widens) a circulatory pathway. If the affected vein is too weak, the vascular surgeon places a mesh tube into the vein to hold it open. Stents are considered permanent and necessary in some cases.

Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center is proud to serve the areas of Port Jefferson Station, Hauppauge, and Riverhead, NY. Contact us today for more information or to schedule your consultation.

Managing your Atherosclerosis

shutterstock 1367408030 It is estimated that 1 out of every 58 American adults has atherosclerosis. This vascular condition occurs when fatty plaques adhere to the walls of coronary arteries. Buildup of arterial plaques causes the arteries to narrow and, over time, harden. Thus, atherosclerosis is aptly referred to as “hardening or narrowing of the arteries.” Atherosclerosis not only impedes blood flow to certain areas of the body, such as the heart, it also increases the risk of stroke via a blood clot dislodging from an artery. For these reasons, it is essential that patients diagnosed with this condition seek proper management care. Here, we discuss a few. 

Lifestyle Changes for Atherosclerosis

One of the very best things a person can do to manage their atherosclerosis is to take a good, hard look at their lifestyle habits. Multiple studies have shown that lifestyle modifications can slow or even reverse some of the plaque formation that has occurred. Suggestions include:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. The risk factors associated with atherosclerosis can be brought under control by eating for a healthy heart and regulated blood sugar. A heart-healthy diet generally includes whole grains and soluble fiber, fresh fruits, and vegetables. It is low in sodium, trans fats and saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates.
  • Make movement a priority. A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other potentially serious conditions. Daily exercise, even if only a 30 to 45 minute walk, helps the body receive and utilize oxygen more efficiently. Ideally, exercise will increase breathing and heart rate for at least 30 minutes at one time. 
  • Avoid smoking and tobacco use. The chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco products have been shown to damage the arteries and inhibit oxygen use.
  • Learn to manage stress. The average American lifestyle is relatively stressful. We are a productive bunch, and most people have a difficult time slowing down and caring for health and wellness, especially when it involves sleep and rest. To manage heart health, though, it is essential to manage stress well. Techniques like yoga, meditation, walking in nature, and deep breathing can help. 

Lifestyle changes are often the first recommendation given to patients diagnosed with atherosclerosis. A doctor may also prescribe medication to slow or reverse this condition. If lifestyle and medications do not improve cholesterol and arterial health, surgery such as angioplasty or endocardectomy may be necessary. Minor surgical procedures work by removing the blockages that have developed. 

Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center provides treatment for the full spectrum of arterial disease. Contact us to schedule an appointment at our Hauppauge, Port Jefferson Station, or Riverhead location. 

Can I Manage Peripheral Artery Disease On My Own?

Peripheral artery disease measuring for patient ankle-brachial index (ABI) test limb ischemia. Medic hands working with device. Peripheral artery disease, called PAD for short, can be a chronic condition that leads to debilitation if not properly managed. Statistics tell us that about 9 million Americans have peripheral artery disease, making it an important topic of discussion for all adults. At Suffolk Vascular and Vein Center, we provide the most conservative care possible to patients living with peripheral artery disease and also discuss how they may manage their condition on their own when appropriate. 

Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease

PAD is a disease that involves the circulatory system. It occurs when the extremities farthest from the heart, the feet and legs, don’t receive the nutrients and oxygenation needed for adequate function. While we usually see peripheral artery disease in these lower extremities, symptoms may occur elsewhere. One reason that PAD may develop is that the heart does not pump the blood forcefully enough to reach the distal extremities. Another is that the arteries that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the body are coated with arterial plaque. This plaque is formed of cholesterol, fatty deposits, and calcium. 

Factors that can contribute to the onset of peripheral artery disease include:

  • Age. PAD is usually diagnosed in adults over age 50.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • An unhealthy diet that is high in fatty foods.
  • Diabetes.
  • Obesity.
  • Smoking.

Symptoms of PAD

The symptoms of PAD may look slightly different in every case. The following may range from mild to severe:

  • Leg pain, usually in the calf area
  • Discoloration of the skin  in the leg or foot
  • Leg cramps while sitting or standing
  • Slower toenail or hair growth
  • Constant coldness, only one leg or foot
  • Open leg sores that fail to heal

Treating Peripheral Artery Disease

Regardless of how mild the symptoms of peripheral artery disease are, they should not be ignored. When an appropriate diagnosis is made, the condition may respond well to conservative care, such as lifestyle modifications. Even if medical intervention is necessary, patients may support optimal results by increasing their physical activity. A 45-minute walk each day is sufficient to boost circulation and potentially ease PAD symptoms. Additionally, patients are encouraged to reduce their intake of fatty foods, sugar, and processed foods and increase the consumption of fresh vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. Smoking should be strictly avoided. 

We are proud to serve the Hauppauge, Port Jefferson, and Riverhead NY areas. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to discuss treatment options for peripheral artery disease.

What Are the Signs of a Blood Clot?

Deep vein thrombosis - blood disorder abstract. The signs of a blood clot depend on the type of clot and where it forms in your body. Deep vein thrombosis is indicated by clots that are located deep within the veins of your body, and they do not move from that location. An embolism is a clot that has broken free and travels elsewhere in your body, often to the brain or lungs.

The initial signs of a clot are not always obvious:

  •         Swelling
  •         Skin is warm to the touch
  •         Pain and tenderness
  •         Redness

The symptoms above would most commonly appear in the legs, thigh, pelvis, and abdomen. If you have a clot in your leg, the calf of that leg may appear red and swollen when you compare it to your other leg. The skin may feel warm to the touch.

These symptoms could very well be linked to another health issue, so it is important to talk to your doctor if you are concerned. You know your body the best. Seek diagnosis for anything that is concerning or unusual.

More severe symptoms of blood clot are often what set off alarms for the people experiencing them:

  •         Chest pain
  •         Pain when taking a deep breath
  •         Coughing up blood
  •         Rapid heartbeat
  •         Weakness in your limbs or face
  •         Difficulty speaking
  •         Sudden, crushing headache

These symptoms could indicate an embolism or another life-threatening health problem. You should seek emergency medical treatment if you experience them.

Symptoms can be highly variable, and sometimes the person experiencing the symptoms mistakes what they are feeling for something else. It’s important to contact your doctor – or the emergency room, if necessary – if something feels wrong to you. Diagnosing and treating a blood clot early is an important part of avoiding the most severe repercussions.

If you are searching for experienced vascular doctors and vascular surgeons in Riverhead, Port Jefferson, or Hauppauge, NY, please contact Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center to arrange a consultation. For people with blood clots that need to be treated, our experienced doctors utilize effective techniques for the given situation. Treatment may include blood thinners, drugs to remove clots, or surgery to remove clots.

Can I Reverse Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Peripheral artery disease measuring for patient ankle-brachial index (ABI) test limb ischemia Peripheral arterial disease makes walking and physical activity downright painful. You may find that you’ve become far less mobile as the aches and pains of PAD strike every time you walk. Fortunately, treatments exist for your stage of PAD, even if it has progressed to a severe stage. Consult our experienced vascular doctors to find out what your options are for restoring your quality of life and preventing further complications.

Atherosclerosis – the buildup of plaque in the artery walls – cannot necessarily be reversed. There is a little evidence showing that some people are able to reduce a minimal amount of existing plaque with lifestyle changes and medication, but treatment instead focuses on preventing the condition from worsening and restoring your ability to lead an active lifestyle.

Especially in the early stages of PAD, some combination of the following may alleviate symptoms and improve blood circulation to the abdomen and legs:

  •         Quitting smoking and any other tobacco use
  •         Increasing physical activity
  •         Adopting a regular exercise routine
  •         Improving your diet
  •         Taking prescribed medications
  •         Losing weight
  •         Improving diabetes management

Surgical treatment may be the best route if PAD has progressed. You may be living with daily pain, cramping, and aching in your legs, even after you’ve sat down or are resting. The condition may be increasing your risk for heart attack, stroke, loss of the affected limb, and poor wound healing. Our vascular specialists perform modern surgical PAD interventions, including balloon angioplasty and stent placement. We will make sure you know all of the options available to you given the circumstances of your diagnosis.

If you are searching for experienced vascular specialists in Riverhead, Port Jefferson, Hauppauge, or the nearby areas of New York, please contact Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced vascular doctors. We are here to discuss all of your options for treating and slowing the progression of peripheral artery disease.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

iStock 541269710 1 Enlarged, twisted, ropey veins are known as varicose veins. They can occur anywhere in your body but are most often seen in the legs. The source of varicose veins is increased pressure that arises when the blood doesn’t get pumped effectively back toward the heart.

Blood is pumped away from your heart and out to the rest of your body. The blood is recirculated by veins that pump the blood back to your heart. In your legs, the veins have to work against gravity to get the blood flowing up to the heart. Valves in the veins open to allow the blood to pass through and then close to prevent it from flowing backward. When these valves are damaged or weakened, some blood may flow backward and pool in the veins. This pooling of blood increases pressure and pushes against the walls of the vein, which then become visible as bulging, dark, twisted veins beneath your skin.

There are several risk factors that may contribute to the development of varicose veins:

  •         Family history
  •         Obesity or being overweight
  •         Pregnancy
  •         Getting older
  •         Long and repeated periods of standing in one place or sitting

Varicose veins may cause symptoms including pain, throbbing, itching, and the sensation of heaviness in your legs. But some people with this issue experience no symptoms at all other than the cosmetic drawback of dark blue or purple, twisted, visible veins. The pooling of blood may lead to swollen ankles and blood clots. If you are concerned, you should see your doctor who may recommend that you visit one of our vascular specialists. Relief from varicose veins is possible. Not only can you restore the appearance of your legs, but you can also eliminate the health-related issues associated with blood pooling in your veins.

If you are experiencing varicose veins, effective treatment options are available. The next step is to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced vascular surgeons and specialists in Port Jefferson, Hauppauge, or Riverhead, NY. To arrange your visit, please contact us today. We look forward to helping you find relief from varicose veins.

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