Did you know that maintaining a healthy heart is key to achieving proper blood flow throughout the body? Let’s get started with some fun facts. A healthy heart beats around 100,000 times per day and can pump 5-6 quarts of blood through your vessels each minute. That’s up to 2,000 gallons a day!
There’s no doubt that your heart has a big job to do. It is responsible for pumping blood (and oxygen!) throughout the body to keep it alive. After oxygen is delivered, deoxygenated blood is then routed back to your heart through your veins. Therefore, when something goes wrong with your heart, your veins can also be affected. Alternatively, if you experience issues with your veins, such as a blood clot, it can impact circulation; the health of your heart may also be impacted.
In other words, poor circulation is a problem for both your heart and your veins. Any time that your blood flow slows, negative health consequences can occur. You may experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms like leg swelling and fatigue. More serious health consequences like blood clots and venous ulcers can also manifest. In some cases, individuals with poor circulation develop life-threatening problems like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), stroke, or heart attack.
To avoid dangerous complications, we suggest that you keep an eye out for poor circulation symptoms, which include:
- Cold feet or legs: When blood flow slows, certain regions of your body can feel colder than others. If your feet or legs often seem cold, this may be a sign of poor circulation.
- Swollen legs, ankles, or feet: When leg veins malfunction, they become inefficient at sending blood back to your heart. This is known as venous insufficiency, or vein disease. When venous insufficiency develops, blood tends to collect in the lower extremities and cause swelling.
- Muscle cramping: Poor circulation can also cause muscle aches and pains, often in the calves. If you suspect sluggish blood flow is behind your muscle cramping, we suggest contacting your doctor.
- Numbness: If you experience tingling or numbness in your thighs, calves, or feet, this may be due to circulatory problems.
- Skin changes: A lack of blood flow can lead to regional skin discoloration. In extreme cases, the skin can break open and form ulcers.
- Leg ulcers: Problems with circulation can lead to the development of venous ulcers, which are open, non-healing wounds. The presence of these is a potentially dangerous situation since they can put you at risk for serious infection.
- Varicose veins: When blood flow slows and begins to collect, it places pressure on the involved veins. Over time, they are forced to expand. This can lead to painful, enlarged, and unsightly varicose veins.
We want you to understand that poor circulation is often a sign that something is wrong. To determine what, we recommend visiting a cardiovascular specialist.
The good news is that following a healthy lifestyle can have a major impact on the health of your heart and veins. It is also important to note that when lifestyle modifications aren’t enough, you likely have treatment options.
Below are some expert tips on promoting proper blood circulation in the heart and venous systems.
Healthy Habits to Improve Your Circulation
When it comes to your heart health, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself. Here are suggestions on how to improve blood circulation.
- Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI): One of the most effective methods to keep your heart healthy is to manage your weight. Shedding excess pounds can significantly reduce your risks of developing heart and vein disease. Losing weight can also sometimes improve related symptoms like leg pain and swelling.
- Eat a well-rounded diet: Along with offering a wide range of health benefits, eating right can promote good blood circulation in heart and venous systems. Try to eat nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. You should avoid foods high in sodium, added sugars, and saturated fats. These unhealthy ingredients can lead to buildup in your arteries.
- Exercise regularly: We recommend aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, five days per week. However, we also want you to know that being active at any level can help. Exercise can promote better blood flow, increase your oxygen production, and strengthen your heart and veins.
- Manage your blood pressure: High blood pressure is often referred to as “the silent killer” by the American Heart Association. Whether or not you are aware of it, high blood pressure can put you at risk for a range of cardiovascular issues. If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to lower it through lifestyle changes and/or medication. To avoid developing future problems, follow the same recommendations to improve blood circulation.
- Monitor your blood sugar: If you have diabetes, you need to be extra careful when it comes to your heart health. When the body struggles to create insulin, your cells may not be able to get the energy they need. Over time, this can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and even the heart. Uncontrolled diabetes can also weaken your veins and lead to venous insufficiency.
- Get enough sleep: Adults require about seven hours of sleep a night to function properly. Anything less than that (or too much sleep!) can cause calcium to build up in the arteries. Calcium buildup is considered an early indicator of heart disease.
- Stop smoking: If you smoke or vape, we recommend that you quit. Smoking and vaping can significantly impact your cardiovascular health and have dangerous consequences. If you need help quitting, ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs.
- Consider taking aspirin: Some individuals with poor circulation can benefit from taking a daily aspirin. However, be sure to discuss this practice with your doctor before starting, and ask about proper dosage. If taking aspirin is not the best option for you, there may be other available medications that can help get your blood flowing.
- Visit your doctor regularly: Along with following up on previously diagnosed conditions, be sure to obtain an annual physical to access your general health. During your visit, remember to mention any new symptoms or changes to your overall health. In general, early diagnosis and treatment lead to the best health outcomes.
- Take your medicine: If your doctor or specialist prescribes medications, it is essential to take them as prescribed. If you have concerns about taking your medicine or experience unexpected or unpleasant side effects, contact your doctor as soon as possible. The reality is that taking necessary medications can often reduce your risks of developing serious health issues.
Improve Your Circulation at USA Vein Clinics
We know that you may have more questions about healthy habits, circulation, and your heart health. We also know that sometimes, following a healthy lifestyle just isn’t enough to avoid problems. Whether you are experiencing poor heart circulation or symptoms of vein disease, our cardiovascular experts are available to help.
At USA Vein Centers, we specialize in caring for individuals with vein disease. Vein disease is the underlying condition that causes varicose veins, spider veins, leg ulcers, restless legs, and other venous issues. It can also lead to poor blood circulation.
With 90 locations across the country, getting help is easy and convenient. In fact, most of our minimally-invasive vein treatments can be performed over your lunch hour. To further discuss how to increase blood flow by maintaining a healthy heart, please contact us at 888.768.3467 or schedule an appointment online.
We look forward to meeting with you one-on-one to make personalized lifestyle and treatment recommendations. See you soon!