More than a third of Americans have varicose veins, twisted, bulging, malfunctioning veins that impair or impede normal circulation. Varicose veins become more common as we age, affecting 40-70% of men and women by the time they reach their 60s.
Varicose veins happen when blood “backs up” inside your veins, causing the vein walls to weaken and bulge. That means that if you have varicose veins, you also have a problem with your circulation.
At TLC Medical Group in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, Anthony B. Lewis, MD, FACC treats varicose veins with medical options and lifestyle changes you can do on your own. If you have varicose veins, here are six ways you can improve circulation starting today.
1. Get moving
You know how your heart beats faster when you exercise? That means it’s also ramping up your circulation. One of the best ways to improve circulation in your legs is to use them more for activities like walking, biking (stationary is fine), or swimming. In addition to improving overall circulation, exercises that engage your legs also strengthen your calf muscles, which play a big role in returning blood from your lower legs to your heart.
2. Wear compression socks
Compression socks and stockings apply gentle, continual pressure to your feet and lower legs. That pressure gives a little additional support to your blood vessels, helping maintain healthy circulation. Plus, if you’re prone to varicose veins, compression socks could help reduce varicose vein formation in the future.
3. Elevate your legs
Blood in your feet and lower legs has a long way to travel to get back to your heart. It’s no wonder that legs and feet are common sites for varicose veins and related problems, like leg ulcers.
Propping your legs up is a good way to take some of the burden off your legs. Ideally, raise your lower legs above your heart level to get the most benefits.
4. Stop smoking
Smoking is associated with increased inflammation. Over time, damage inside your blood vessels increases the risk of sticky plaque buildup that makes it harder for blood to flow. Smoking also raises your blood pressure, leading to additional vessel damage.
5. Optimize your diet
Fatty foods and foods high in cholesterol, sodium, and sugars all contribute to excess weight that winds up putting pressure on your leg veins. An unhealthy diet increases your risk of high blood pressure and contributes to the buildup of plaques that narrow your arteries and interfere with circulation.
Instead, focus on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and the oils found in some fish and nuts are good alternatives, too. Crave sweet drinks? Flavor water with some fresh fruit for a healthy alternative to soda.
6. See a vein specialist
Varicose veins are, literally, diseased veins that become visible because they’re malfunctioning. If you have varicose veins, it’s always wise to schedule a vein evaluation so our team can find out what’s causing them and what we can do to help relieve varicose vein symptoms and, ideally, prevent new varicose veins from forming.
A vein evaluation also looks for serious underlying problems, like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or peripheral artery disease (PAD) that could cause vessel malfunction and increase your risks of heart attack and stroke.
Don’t ignore varicose veins
Varicose veins aren’t just unattractive. They can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem. To find out what’s causing your varicose veins and what you can do to eliminate them and prevent new ones from forming, call 772-200-3840 or book an appointment online at TLC Medical Group today.