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Tips for vascular health

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Some of us have more prominent veins than others. But when your veins appear swollen, twisted, or darkly colored, you may be suffering from varicose veins. Varicose veins affect 1 in 4 adults and can range from merely unsightly to downright dangerous. But what exactly are varicose veins, and what can be done about them?

What Causes Varicose Veins?

In the simplest terms, varicose veins are veins that are swollen with blood. Your veins have valves that keep your blood flowing toward your heart. When those veins become damaged or weakened, blood can back-up behind them and pool in your veins, causing them to swell. When this happens, they protrude from the skin and appear twisted, enlarged, and bluish in color. They are often called “spider veins” when they are mild thanks to their webbed appearance.

Varicose veins are most common in the legs, ankles and feet. That’s because the pressure in the veins of your lower body is increased when you stand or walk. Any vein can become varicose. For example, hemorrhoids are a form of varicose veins that form in the rectum. They can also occur in the stomach, esophagus, liver or testicles.

What are the symptoms of varicose veins?

The most common sign of varicose veins is their dark, bulging appearance. Many varicose veins cause no other symptoms. If left untreated, varicose veins can cause:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Pain
  • Dull aching
  • Feelings of heaviness or tiredness in the limbs
  • Changes in skin color
  • Nighttime skin cramps or restlessness

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Your symptoms may get worse when you sit or stand for long periods. 

Am I at risk for varicose veins?

Varicose veins are very common, affecting over 23% of adults. They occur more often in women than in men. Experts are not sure what causes varicose veins, but some potential risk factors include menopause, pregnancy, obesity, family history, and being over 50. You may also be at increased risk of varicose veins if you are taking certain medications, are inactive for long periods, or smoke.

How do you treat varicose veins?

Many varicose veins need no treatment for health reasons, but they may indicate an underlying condition so they should always be evaluated by a medical professional. Your physician will diagnose varicose veins by doing a physical examination and reviewing your lifestyle, family history, and symptoms. They may also use imaging like an ultrasound to determine the health of your veins.

Treatment for varicose veins can range from lifestyle changes to surgery. Being more active, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking are common ways to combat varicose veins. Your physician may also suggest compression therapy, which improves circulation.

If your varicose veins are severe, you may need surgical treatment. Most procedures involve closing off the vein to prevent blood flow. Once the vein is closed, blood will re-route to healthy veins nearby. For a look at the most common surgical treatments, visit our services page.

Each patient is different. The physicians at Vascular Associates of South Alabama will work with you to determine the most appropriate course of treatment for your needs.

If you think you may be suffering from varicose veins, give us a call at 251-410-8272. Our expert vascular physicians can diagnose and treat your varicose veins to make you comfortable and keep you in optimal health. Plus, most of our procedures are minimally invasive and can be done right on-site in our Mobile, AL facility. Contact us today!

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Strokes can be extremely scary. According to the CDC, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year. Family history, previous strokes and health factors all contribute to your risk of stroke. While you can’t change your family, there are ways you can lower your future risk and prevent a stroke from happening. Here are 6 ways that can help prevent a stroke:

Lower Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is the number one cause of strokes, responsible for over 50%. Having high blood pressure makes you 4-6 times more likely to have a stroke. That’s because it increases your risk of blood clots, which can cut off blood flow to your brain. Ideal blood pressure is under 120/80, but if yours is regularly higher than 140/90 then you may have high blood pressure.

Work with your doctor on keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range. Medications and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are common treatments for high blood pressure.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

A healthy weight prevents so many health issues, and strokes are no exception. Obesity leads to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which increase your risk of stroke. A BMI of less than 25 is ideal but may not be realistic for everyone. Work with your doctor to create a treatment plan to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Of course, that means you’ll need to diet and exercise.

Diet and Exercise

Healthy lifestyle choices go a long way in preventing a stroke. Choosing healthy foods like fruits, veggies, lean protein, cutting out fats, salts and sugars, help you shed pounds and stay heart-healthy. Exercising is also important to staying healthy and minimizing your risk of stroke. You don’t have to become a pro-athlete - moderate exercise such as walking or biking for 30 minutes, 5 times a week is enough. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise regime.

Treat Diabetes

High blood sugar makes you 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke. Untreated diabetes can cause clots or fatty deposits to build in your arteries, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow. If you have diabetes, be sure to stay on top of your blood sugar and have regular visits with your doctor to lower your risk of stroke.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking doubles your risk of a stroke. It causes high blood pressure, reduces your blood’s oxygen levels, damages your blood vessels, and much more. Even secondhand smoke can increase your risk. It’s best to throw your butts in the trash. Speak to your doctor about smoking cessation methods.

Drink in Moderation

Excessive alcohol consumption raises your blood pressure, affects your blood sugar, and can cause irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation). Limit your intake of alcohol to minimize your risk of stroke. If you struggle to stop drinking, seek the help of your doctor.

Using tips like the one above, we can now prevent up to 80% of strokes. If you’re at risk, the professionals at Vascular Associates of South Alabama can work with you on a stroke prevention plan to minimize your chance of future strokes. From lifestyle changes to medications or surgery, we can help you take back your health and your life. Contact us today!

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