Seven Tips for Healthier Veins
You might only think about your veins when you see them bulging after a tough workout or find a spider of varicose vein forming on your leg. But we have about 60,000 miles of vasculature – arteries, veins and tiny capillaries carrying blood and nutrients to every corner of our being – and they deserve more than the occasional fleeting thought. After all, veins are the “highway” through which blood flows back to our hearts – and, like any highway, when there’s a blockage, it can traffic can slow to a crawl or even stop – which can be catastrophic.
Fortunately, you’re in the driver’s seat – and you have the power to make good decisions that that can keep the blood flowing, and keep your veins healthy. In general, we recommend that you:
- Learn to love cardio. You don’t have to train for the Whiskey Row Marathon, but we do recommend that you walk, run, bike, dance, hike or do any workout that will get your heart rate up for about 30 minutes a day, five (or more) days a week. Not only does cardiovascular exercise promote healthy blood flow and strong veins, but it can help you avoid weight gain, which can strain the vessels in your lower body.
- Drink plenty of water. When your body is properly hydrated, it not only works more efficiently, but your blood becomes thinner and flows more easily through your veins.
- Eat the rainbow. Fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamins C and K, can contribute to the health of your vein walls, and improve vein diameter and circulation.
- Consider compression socks. If you’re susceptible to venous insufficiency, due to a hereditary condition, pregnancy, a chronic condition or lifestyle, compression socks can help. By working to squeeze the muscles around the veins, compression socks help blood move more easily back up toward the heart.
- Cut back on sugar. Once digested, sugar-rich food and drinks, like soda, juice, cookies, and cereals, cause your body to produce low-density lipoprotein, which can become oxidized and stuck to the walls of your blood vessels – forming what’s commonly called plaque. As plaque builds up over time, it can lead to clotting, as well as high cholesterol – both of which can lead to problems with your veins, arteries, and heart.
- Leave the heat behind. A long hot bath, dip in the jacuzzi or a stay in the sauna might be great for sore muscles, but over time, prolonged exposure to heat can actually increase vein swelling and lead to blood pooling, which can ultimately lead to venous insufficiency and blood clots.
- Kick the (smoking) habit. Smoking isn’t good for you, but it’s especially hard on cardiovascular system. Because the chemicals in tobacco smoke can deoxygenate and thicken the blood, it can cause the flow of blood to slow down. In addition, nicotine can cause vascular hardening and narrowing, and elevate your risk of clotting – which can be deadly.
Finally, if you notice symptoms of venous insufficiency, including swelling or heaviness in the lower leg or ankle, varicose veins, pain or itchiness, seek help from a vascular specialist who can provide the care you need. For information on the services available at Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott, visit vispdocs.com or call 928.771.8477.