Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What women can do about varicose veins (and free eArticle)

It is a common misconception that only women experience troublesome veins. In the U.S. one in three people— including men— has some form of venous disease. Still, gender does make a difference. Why?

A woman has three potential “high risk” times in her life that men do not. Significant hormonal fluctuations typically happen during menarche (menstruation), pregnancy, and menopause. Surges in the hormone progesterone, in particular, can cause veins to stretch, sometimes enough for vein valves to tear and fail to do their job. Women who have venous insufficiency may notice that their symptoms worsen during menstruation.

Even after menopause, when most hormone fluctuations have stopped, a woman’s risk of vein disease continues to increase with age. There is a higher incidence of varicose veins in older women, because as the body ages, it produces less collagen, which causes the veins (and vein valves) to become weaker.

With the right information, women have the ability to reduce their risk of developing venous disease and/or decrease its severity. Preventative measures include: wearing graduated compression stockings; living an active lifestyle; and maintaining a healthy weight.

There are also a number of effective, minimally invasive treatments available for varicose veins and other symptoms of vein disease. If you’d like to learn more about how women can improve their vein health, read our latest eArticle “Women and Vein Treatments.” Click here to download your free copy.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Welcome back, snowbirds!

For years, New Englanders have spent the winter months in warmer climates and then travel north when the snow stops flying. Summer can be a good time for people with vein problems — including “snowbirds”— to think about treatment.

During the warmer summer months, the heat can dilate veins and cause symptoms to worsen— which can inspire people to seek treatment. All venous procedures require compression stockings post-treatment, and because many seniors already wear compression stockings regularly, this may be less of a barrier.

Most snowbirds check in with their primary care doctor when they get to Maine or before they leave. If this is something you do, this doctor visit is a good time to discuss any achiness or pain in your legs, or ask about vein disease, such as varicose veins or venous ulcers.

In any case, vein evaluations can take place in either the patient’s summer or winter home. Phlebologists who are certified by the American Board of Phlebology (ABPh) can be found on the ABPh web page: www.americanboardofphlebology.org.

Finally, good communication between primary care physicans and specialists is essential to receiving good patient care. Phlebologists, too, should keep every patient’s family doctor abreast of all vein procedures and interventions, even if one doctor is in Florida and the other is in Maine.