Friday, January 17, 2014

Healthy Veins in the Winter

The winter tends to be a good time for people with vein issues, like varicose veins or venous ulcers. According to Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen of the Vein Healthcare Center, the heat of summer actually causes veins to dilate or stretch, and symptoms often become worse. She finds that people are more likely to pursue vein treatments in the winter months because of the need for compression stockings post treatment.

Compression stockings or socks are therapeutic hosiery designed to increase blood circulation by placing pressure on the lower leg, foot and, in some cases, the thigh. Graduated compression stockings have strong elastics that are tightest at the ankles and then gradually become less constrictive toward the knees and thighs. They can be used after vein treatment or, in some cases, as a supplement to treatment.

During wintertime, patients with vein problems are much more likely to wear their compression stockings, treating them like a welcome layer of insulation, like longjohns. Though compression stockings won't completely cure a vein problem, they can dramatically improve the symptoms and keep an existing issue from escalating.

One drawback of winter is that many people prefer to stay indoors to avoid the cold. But less walking and more sitting is the worst thing one can do to keep legs healthy— or to keep bad legs from getting worse. So what’s the answer?

Walk, even if it’s just around the house. Dr. Asbjornsen has one dedicated patient who walks for two minutes, 15 times a day— by taking a stroll around her house every half-hour! Of course, if you belong to a gym or fitness club, get in there and hop on a treadmill.

Another option is the mall. Walking around inside a mall, or even a grocery store or large department store, can go a long way toward venous disease recovery and prevention. Walking just thirty minutes every day keeps the muscles of the lower legs healthy.

Whatever the season, if you're experiencing symptoms of venous insufficiency, the sooner you address it, the better. Left untreated, the problem could get much worse. Treatment can stop the progression of the disease and its complications for those in its early stages, and for those struggling with late-stage symptoms, it can restore health and quality of life.

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