How to Improve Circulation: A Complete Guide

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how to improve circulation

Maintaining a healthy circulatory system is vital to your overall well-being. Did you know that poor circulation can cause painful symptoms, place you at risk for dangerous health conditions, and even impact your quality of life? While poor circulation isn’t considered a health condition in itself, it can certainly be a sign that something is wrong.

Below, we discuss the importance of a healthy circulatory system. We also cover some common symptoms and causes of poor circulation. Perhaps most importantly, we provide general advice on how to improve circulation –– both naturally, as well as through minimally invasive, office-based vein treatment.

For personalized recommendations on how to improve circulation, we recommend consulting a vein specialist.

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What is the Circulatory System?

Your circulatory system, also known as the cardiovascular system, is made up of your heart and all three types of your body’s blood vessels. These include arteries, veins, and capillaries.

Each type of vessel plays a unique role in blood circulation: Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the organs and other areas of the body, whereas veins carry depleted blood back to the heart for reoxygenation. Capillaries, the body’s smallest blood vessels, connect your arteries to your veins.

When something goes wrong in the circulatory system, parts of your body can become deprived of essential blood, oxygen, and nutrients. This can cause painful and uncomfortable symptoms, such as swollen legs, tingling feet, or cold hands. It can also place you at risk for dangerous health conditions, including heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and venous ulcers.

If you are experiencing signs of poor circulation, talk to your doctor about what is going on, and learn ways to improve your blood circulation.


Symptoms of Poor Circulation

Since healthy circulation is integral for your body to function, keep your eyes out for signs of poor circulation. While poor circulation can impact the health of your entire body, you may notice certain symptoms more in particular areas. For instance, your hands and feet may be particularly susceptible to coldness and numbness. Alternatively, your legs may exhibit swelling and varicose veins.

It is also possible to experience poor circulation before developing any noticeable symptoms. If you are at risk for poor circulation, close monitoring by a medical professional may be beneficial.

Common symptoms of poor circulation include:

  • Cold hands, feet, and legs: If your hands, feet, or legs often feel colder than other parts of your body, you may have poor circulation. Coldness in the extremities is a common indicator.
  • Swollen legs, ankles, or feet: Swelling in the lower extremities is another common symptom of poor circulation. When leg veins begin to malfunction and struggle to send blood back to the heart, blood instead pools in the legs, ankles, and feet.
  • Muscle cramping: Sluggish blood can lead to muscle aches, pains, and cramps. Most often, the calves are affected by these symptoms.
  • Numbness: While everyone experiences ‘pins and needles’ occasionally, ongoing sensations of tingling or numbness in your thighs, calves, and feet may be signs of circulatory issues.
  • Skin changes: If you’ve noticed regional skin discoloration or other skin changes, you may be experiencing poor circulation. The affected skin can eventually crack open and ulcerate.
  • Leg ulcers: Circulation issues can lead to the development of venous ulcers, which may leave you prone to serious infection. Venous ulcers are open, non-healing wounds that often form on the legs and ankles.
  • Varicose veins: Swollen, painful veins in the lower extremities are another sign of circulatory issues. When blood pools in your legs, ankles, and feet, your veins become strained and may begin to expand.

If you are experiencing circulatory problems, we recommend contacting a vein specialist. They can conduct a full evaluation and make personalized recommendations for how to improve blood circulation.

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Causes of Poor Circulation

There are many factors that impact circulation, including age, genetics, lifestyle, and underlying disease. While some of these may be under your control to change, others are not. Regardless, it is important to understand the root causes of poor circulation so that you can learn how to increase circulation.

Common causes of poor circulation include:

  • Age: Older individuals are at greater risk for developing weak blood vessels, which can impact circulation.
  • Obesity: Having a high body mass index (BMI) may place you at increased risk for circulatory problems.
  • Inactivity: You may experience slower blood flow if you have a job that requires long periods of sitting or standing.
  • Poor diet: Eating unhealthy foods high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fats can affect the health of your heart and blood vessels.
  • Smoking: This unhealthy habit can wreak havoc on your entire circulatory system.
  • Certain health conditions: While many underlying conditions can impact your circulatory health, high blood pressure and diabetes are notable.
  • Vein disease: This common ailment, also known as venous insufficiency, develops when tiny, one-way vein valves are damaged and they struggle to carry blood efficiently to the heart. Vein disease is the underlying cause of varicose veins and spider veins.

If you are concerned about poor circulation, consider visiting a vein specialist. They can identify your risk factors, make specific lifestyle recommendations, and provide vein treatment when necessary. In some cases, vein treatment can help improve blood circulation.

Dangers of Poor Circulation

Although you may be tempted to ignore signs of poor circulation, this can lead to things getting even worse. On the other hand, learning how to improve circulation can alleviate symptoms and reduce your risks of developing a number of dangerous health conditions, including heart attack and stroke.

When circulation is poor, you may also be at increased risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a serious blood clot that occurs in the deep venous system. Although DVT can develop anywhere in the body, a single leg is the most common site.

Signs of deep vein thrombosis include: 

  • Leg swelling on one side
  • Warmth in the affected area
  • Skin redness
  • Pain, tenderness, or cramping in the lower extremities

If you believe that you are experiencing DVT, seek medical attention immediately. If left untreated, DVT can break off and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. This is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical treatment.

Signs of pulmonary embolism include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint
  • Chest pain or discomfort that worsens with a deep breath or cough

If you experience signs of pulmonary embolism, call 911 immediately or head directly to the nearest emergency room.

How to Improve Circulation

At USA Vein Clinics, we are available to provide personalized recommendations on how to improve blood circulation naturally. We can also perform minimally invasive, office-based vein treatment when necessary.

How to increase circulation through heart-healthy lifestyle modifications:

Dietary Recommendations to Improve Circulation

  • Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
  • Focus on foods that improve circulation, such as fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Limit alcohol, sodium, sugar, and saturated fats
  • Maintain good hydration

Physical Activity Recommendations to Improve Circulation

  • Exercise regularly (30 minutes or more each day, at least five times per week)
  • Focus on cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, jogging, biking, and swimming
  • Avoid prolonged standing or sitting
  • Move around frequently throughout the day
  • When stuck in one place, stretch and massage your arms and legs

Other Recommendations to Improve Blood Circulation

  • Lose excess weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Work with your doctor to manage underlying health conditions
  • Elevate your legs when possible
  • Talk to your doctor about the use of compression socks

If vein disease is contributing to your poor circulation symptoms, we recommend obtaining vein treatment. Treating underlying vein disease can boost blood flow, alleviate painful venous symptoms, reduce serious health risks, and improve quality of life.

We understand that vein treatment may sound stressful, but you may be surprised at how quick and convenient it can be. At USA Vein Clinics, we offer a range of minimally invasive, office-based treatments that take less than an hour to perform, from start to finish.

Our state-of-the-art non-surgical treatments do not require a hospital stay, general anesthesia, or lengthy recovery. Most of our patients can drive themselves home immediately after treatment and return to their normal daily activities.

Improve Circulation with Vein Treatment at USA Vein Clinics

At USA Vein Clinics, we provide minimally invasive, office-based treatment for varicose veins, spider veins, and other venous issues. We treat our patients at over 100 clinic locations nationwide.

If you are interested in more information on how to improve blood circulation, we encourage you to schedule an initial consultation today with one of our leading experts.

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