Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen on Catching Health

Earlier this spring, our own Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen spoke with health reporter Diane Atwood on her podcast on the Catching Health blog.

Their topics of conversation were far ranging, everything from how a clot in the deep vein system could possibly cause a stroke, to why blood appears blue in the veins.

Dr. Asbjornsen also explains why vein treatment is NOT a one-size-fits-all proposition. And she talks about how anyone can get deep vein thrombosis -- even someone playing a video game (for many hours in a row). Who knew talking about veins could be so interesting?

This isn't the first time Dr. Asbjornsen has appeared on Catching Health. She wrote a guest post on Catching Health about when you should ask your doctor about your vein problems.

We hope you'll give the Catching Health podcast a listen!

Click here to learn more about Dr. Asbjornsen and her practice the Vein Healthcare Center.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Are varicose veins a cosmetic issue or a medical issue?

This is a question we get at the Vein Healthcare Center all the time. Most healthcare providers would agree that if a patient is having pain and is unable to perform his or her work due to varicose veins, then it is medically necessary.

But all factors must be weighed when drawing a line between medical and “simply cosmetic,” not the least of which is restoring patients’ confidence and overall well-being. Even if a patient isn’t experiencing physical pain – but won’t swim in a pool or wear shorts to the beach because she’s ashamed of varicose veins – her quality of life is markedly diminished.

Additionally, it is common for venous disorders to be undiagnosed or undertreated. It’s important to remember that varicose veins are a symptom of early stage venous disease, and if left untreated could lead to larger medical issues.

From the perspective of insurance companies the difference between “cosmetic” and “medical” may be whether or not a vein has a connection to the deep system; if it does and the connection is leaking, then they consider treatment medical necessary. That said, there are many vein procedures that are covered by insurance, and one should not assume that treatment won’t be covered. Feel free to contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center to discuss the details of your coverage.

At the Vein Healthcare Center, our basic philosophy is that treating problematic veins isn’t about vanity – it’s about health and quality of life.

If you’re not sure whether or not you have vein disease, click here to find out more, or schedule an appointment for a full evaluation of your vein health.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Men’s health includes healthy veins

Men don’t get varicose veins, right? Of course they do! Men are just as likely to suffer from vein issues than women.

June 12-18 is Men’s Health Week, a chance for men to take stock of their health and habits – including varicose veins and other vein problems often associated with women.

Here are the facts: Anatomically, men’s leg veins are no different from women’s veins. Looking at a leg ultrasound, one would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a man’s and a woman’s legs.

Everyone’s veins carry blood from the legs and arms back to the heart. The blood in the legs travels up against gravity, so when the valves in the veins become damaged, blood “leaks” back into the legs and creates a “pooling” effect.
Who has the highest risk of getting varicose veins? Heredity plays a strong role, so look at your family history for clues. Lifestyle is also a significant risk factor: does your job require you to stand for long periods of time, or do you sit at your desk all day? Advanced age or previous leg trauma can also affect your venous health.

Even men who are athletic are susceptible to venous (vein) disease. Sometimes men with vein problems misinterpret their symptoms, mistaking the pains of venous disease for a strained or pulled muscle.

Like any chronic medical condition, varicose veins get worse with time, and the longer one waits, the more extensive the condition could become. Many men go to their doctors for the first time when they get venous ulcers, a problem too painful to ignore.

Treatment can stop the progression of venous disease and its complications for those in all stages of disease, however, early intervention is best and provides the most improved quality of life. But for those men (or women) struggling with late-stage symptoms it is still possible to restore health. Today's vein treatments are minimally invasive, cause very little pain, and can be accomplished quickly right in a physician’s office.
The key for men is to get evaluated as soon as the symptoms become apparent or they suspect there’s a problem.

Schedule your evaluation and learn how treatment could improve your health and quality of life.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Making vein health and treatment easy to understand

Earlier this spring, Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen spoke with the Portland Press Herald about what causes varicose veins, who is at the most risk for getting them, and ways to prevent vein problems from getting worse.

Click here to read the Press Herald story.

Dr. Asbjornsen also explained some options for treatment that is less invasive and less painful. Click here to read more.

The article also gives readers a chance to know Dr. Asbjornsen a little bit better, such as her passion for education and for treating people with vein issues:
Although she rarely deals with life-or-death maladies, Asbjornsen takes pride and satisfaction in helping patients take simple steps that can give them back their lives.
‘Really, treating veins is all about quality of life,’ Asbjornsen said.
Learn more about Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, or visit the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine for a complete vein health evaluation.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Happy National Nurses Week!

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, sponsored by the American Nurses Foundation. This
year's theme is "Year of the Healthy Nurse."

To celebrate and support nurses everywhere, we offer some healthy leg tips for nurses who are on their feet all day.

Did you know that varicose veins can be an occupational hazard for nurses? One tried and true way to reduce the effects of vein disease -- and in some cases, prevent symptoms -- is graduated compression

Please note that so-called "support hose" does not have to be ugly! Not today, with the many styles and colors that are available. 

Another remedy for aching legs is to elevate them periodically and at the end of the day. This post explains how to properly elevate legs. Lastly, nurses should remember to care for their feet. Here are some tips from the blog RN Central.

Happy National Nurses Week to all of the nurses out there. Thank you for all you do!

Visit the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine, or learn more about Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fixing the problem

In our last two posts, we looked at the problem of leg pain in athletes, and how veins and exercise can possibly affect each other.

If vein problems keep someone from doing activities that aggravate his or her vein symptoms, then choosing alternate activities is one way to cope. Some people may find that swimming, for example, does not produce the same discomfort that running does.

Athletes can live with the problem, but they don’t have to. There are so many options for treatment so that people can continue doing their favorite sports or whatever activity they're passionate about. They might even see an improvement in their performance.

Modern treatments have excellent initial and long-term success rates when performed by an experienced phlebologist (vein specialist). Endovenous approaches are minimally invasive treatments used to address specific large varicose veins in the legs.

Endovenous ablation (EVLA) is considered the gold standard in the treatment of venous symptoms, with success rates between 90% and 98% after five years. It has largely replaced previous, more invasive standards of care, such as vein stripping.

Another option for treatment is sclerotherapy, performed either with ultrasound-guidance, or with a light-assist, which seals the vein wall of small varicose veins allowing them to fade away.

With both EVLA and sclerotherapy, patients can walk the day of the procedure and return to normal activity, including moderate exercise, within a few days.

The key to safe, effective vein treatment is to consult with a board certified vein specialist who can evaluate the entire venous system so that poorly functioning veins can be treated at the source.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How exercise impacts veins (and vice versa)

In our last post we began discussing how physically active people experiencing leg pain are possibly experiencing the effects of vein insufficiency. In this post we take a closer look.

During exercise your muscles require more oxygen, so veins dilate to increase the volume of blood flowing through the circulatory systembut if your veins are not working properly, that means more blood can pool in your legs. On the other hand, exercise is beneficial from a venous standpoint because anything that improves the function of the foot and calf muscle pumps to get the blood back up to the heart is good.

Walking is the best exercise for improving the muscle-pump function, especially following vein treatment. Although walking can help manage the symptoms, it does not prevent vein problemsNeither does exercise cause vein problems, except in extreme cases. Physical activities that require your legs to support heavier weight over prolonged periods of time, such as weightlifting or backpacking can put someone at increased risk for developing venous issues. Repeated exposure to increased intra-abdominal pressure, or pressure that is transmitted to lower extremities, can cause the normal system of valves and veins to weaken over time and become incompetent.

Repetitive motion sports such as endurance running, cycling and tennis can also put a lot of stress on your leg veins and over time may overcome a normal venous system.

In general, exercise (and working out the muscle pumps) is not detrimental for the vast majority of athletes who are participating in a more typical spectrum of activity. In fact, maximizing the efficiency of that system is beneficial.

Depending on each individuals degree of vein disease, he or she may become more symptomatic because the foot pump no longer counters the vein insufficiency. One persons level of activity, for instance, may be associated with the progression of vein disease if they have some pre-existing risk factors, such as age or family history.

While exercise can influence vein dysfunction, it doesnt necessarily prevent it or cause it. But can poorly performing veins affect athletic performance? The short answer is yes. If the venous system is not working correctly, then the extra de-oxygenated blood (and blood waste products like lactate) can cause discomfort, cramping, fatigue, or other conditions that diminish performance.

Even if legs feel great during training, vein issues can also cause legs to hurt after exertion and slow your recovery.

In our next post about athletes, exercise, and veins, we’ll turn to treatments to fix the problem. And be sure to visit the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine to learn more about your options for treatment.