Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Patients With Chronic Venous Disease
Chronic venous disease is an incredibly common condition. According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, it may affect up to 40% of the US population. This condition occurs when weak or damaged valves in the veins of your legs are unable to efficiently pump the blood to the rest of your body. While for many people varicose veins are primarily a cosmetic concern, for other more severe cases varicose veins cause discomfort and lead to more serious problems.
Fortunately, mild cases of chronic venous disease can sometimes be managed with lifestyle changes. The physicians at Vascular & Vein Institute of Siouxland recommend the following lifestyle changes for patients with chronic venous disease.
Learn the symptoms and actively monitor them
One of the first signs of chronic venous disease is varicose veins. Common symptoms of varicose veins include the following:
- Enlarged, dark purple or blue veins
- Aching pain or heaviness in one or both legs
- Itching near affected veins
- Muscle cramps
If you begin to exhibit symptoms, it’s important to closely monitor them to provide your physician with as much information as possible. The physicians at Vascular & Vein Institute of Siouxland recommend writing down symptom information in a notebook.
Have annual checkups with your primary care physician
Annual checkups and screenings with your primary care physician are integral to your overall health. These visits can help to identify health issues before they progress into bigger problems. Annual checkups are also a great time to get your health questions answered.
Maintain a healthy weight
As mentioned above, varicose veins are the result of weak or damaged valves in the veins of your legs. These valves allow the blood to flow backward and pool in the veins, causing them to enlarge and twist. Being overweight or obese can increase the amount of pressure on your veins, causing more blood to pool and worsen symptoms. While losing weight cannot reverse the damage already done, it can slow the progression of symptoms.
The physicians at Vascular & Vein Institute of Siouxland recommend working with your primary care physician to develop a safe and effective weight loss plan.
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Regular exercise helps improve blood flow throughout the entire body, including the legs. Engaging in regular exercise can help slow the progression of varicose veins and may help to relieve pain.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Adults gain most of these health benefits when they do the equivalent of 150 to 300 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week.” Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity include the following:
- Brisk walking (2.5 miles per hour or faster)
- Bicycling (10 miles per hour or slower on level terrain)
- Active forms of yoga
- General work around the house (cleaning, yard work, etc).
The physicians at Vascular & Vein Institute of Siouxland recommend working with your primary care physician to develop a safe exercise plan.
Smoking can cause damage to the vascular system as a whole. It contributes to the narrowing of blood vessels and restricts circulation, which can lead to further development of varicose veins.
Wear compression garments
Compression garments are designed to place mild pressure on the legs to help encourage blood to flow upward instead of pooling in the legs. Compression garments are offered both over-the-counter and by prescription.
Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing
Staying seated or standing for a large amount of time places additional stress on leg veins. It is important to incorporate regular movement into your daily routine.
The physicians at Vascular & Vein Institute of Siouxland recommend setting multiple reminders to move throughout the day.
Regularly elevate feet
Making it a habit to regularly elevate your feet above your heart can help encourage blood to flow in the correct direction, improving circulation. Elevating the feet can help slow the progression of varicose veins and help relieve pain and swelling.
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