Friday, June 14, 2013

Father’s Day Facts: What Men Should Know About Veins

Father’s Day Cake by Mina Magiska Bakverk (My Magical Pastries), on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Mina Magiska Bakverk (My Magical Pastries) 

Women are more likely than men to have venous disease, including varicose veins and spider veins. But men are more likely to suffer from the worst vein problems, such as ulcers. Why is this the case?

One reason is that women tend to get help for their vein issues right away, while men will often wait until the problem becomes too painful to ignore. Leg wounds that won’t heal is often the result. Even men who are athletic are susceptible to venous disease.

Venous Disease is a Real Medical Issue

The important thing is to seek help for vein issues as soon as symptoms present themselves. For both men and women, venous disease is a medical issue, not a vanity issue. Conditions like varicose veins get worse with time, so the longer someone waits, the more extensive the condition—and the treatment.

A Venous Symptom Checklist – for Dad (& Grandad)

The key for men is to get evaluated as soon as they suspect there’s a problem. Symptoms of venous disease include:

  • Leg fatigue or heaviness – When legs feel good upon waking but are intensely tired or heavy at the end of the day, this is an early warning sign.
  • Swelling – Swelling can be caused by many things but also serves as a very early warning sign for vein problems. In any case, legs that frequently swell shouldn't be ignored.
  • Skin changes – Redness, skin thickening or other color changes on the legs and/or ankles is a common (and commonly overlooked) symptom. Other skin changes, such as dermatitis, cellulitis, dry or scaly skin, or brown “stains” on the skin can be signs of advanced venous disease, and should be evaluated by a physician.
  • Spider veins – Spider veins are blue or purple-colored veins that occur under the skin but are close enough to be seen on the surface. Treating them can improve appearance, as well as stop the progression of venous disease at its source.
  • Varicose veins – Another sign of early stage venous disease, varicose veins are visible veins in the leg that bulge, often protruding through the skin.
  • Ulcers – An open wound on the leg or ankle that fails to heal can be the result of ongoing venous disease. In fact, “venous stasis ulcers” in the leg are often an indication that venous disease has reached an advanced stage.

Venous disease is a progressive disease that is not curable, but for most people, even debilitating symptoms are completely treatable. Treatment can stop the progression of the disease and restore health and quality of life for both women and men, so everyone can enjoy many happy, healthy Father’s Days.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Keeping Legs Healthy “From Hips to Heels”

Maine Radio Show Addresses Leg Health 

Is it better to run barefoot?

Why are compression stockings a mainstay of care for pregnant women?

What is the source of plantar fasciitis? 

A recent episode of Maine Calling on MPBN focused on these and other questions about our lower half – from varicose veins to the causes of joint pain.

In our lifetime, it’s very likely we’ll be challenged by issues arising from our feet, legs, or hips. This month, Keith Shortall welcomed three physicians that specialize in these regions of the body. Join Keith, Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, founder of the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Dr. Brian McGrory of Maine Medical Partners Orthopedics, and Dr. Kenny Maisak of Portland Foot & Ankle to get some of the most common questions answered about the parts of the body charged with supporting us from below. Listen to the show.

Inside “Hips to Heels”: Expecting? Early intervention is the Key 

Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen
According to Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, for women, it’s not the weight of late stage pregnancy that causes symptoms of venous disease – it’s the hormones of early pregnancy that cause damage to the vein walls and lead to venous insufficiency and varicose veins, something that can be treated with prescription compression stockings. Ironically, the first trimester is often when patients aren’t even being treated by a physician. “Prevention can start on day one,” said Dr. Asbjornsen. “Compression stockings are the mainstay of care for pregnant women.”

Dr. Asbjornsen also recommends persistence when it comes to treatment for leg and vein issues – sometimes primary care physicians are not as informed about the changes in the field of phlebology as they could be, nor are they knowledgeable about how straightforward and effective treatments can be. “This is an incredibly new field,” said Dr. Asbjornsen. “It has only come into existence in the last thirty years, and a lot of the modern treatments have only been around since the late 90s. For many physicians it’s hard to stay current.”

Learn more about Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen.