Blood Clots and Travel: What You Need to Know

December 31, 2019

Traveling for long periods can wreak havoc on the body’s circulatory system. Whether you’re traveling by plane, car or bus, lengthy trips and prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to the formation of blood clots, particularly for those at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In some cases, this condition can cause painful physical symptoms that affect your comfort and overall health. At the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we are dedicated to helping patients restore and protect their vascular health. We encourage all those who travel for long periods to understand the risk factors of venous disease, how to prevent issues from developing, and how to secure your long-term vein health.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the body, which are not visible through the skin. This condition most commonly develops in the legs due to extended periods of inactivity, such as long-distance trips. When the body is seated, the blood circulates more slowly, and gravity works against the veins as they attempt to send blood back up the legs. This process can gradually cause the blood to collect and pool in the vein, triggering the body’s clotting response.

In some cases, blood clots can dissolve on their own. However, in more severe cases, deep vein thrombosis can lead to painful symptoms and further medical complications if left untreated. If part of the blood clot detaches and travels to the lungs, it can cause a blockage, also known as a pulmonary embolism, which may be fatal. Understanding the risk factors, symptoms and preventative techniques can help prepare you for long-distance trips and ensure you remain in good vascular health during and after your journey.

Symptoms of DVT

Some patients who develop DVT experience no physical symptoms. However, the most common issues associated with blood clots include:

  • Swelling in the foot, ankle or leg
  • Cramping, throbbing or unexplained pain in the legs
  • Enlarged veins
  • The skin over the affected vein feels warmer than surrounding skin
  • The skin over the affected area turns pale, reddish or bluish

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately. Dr. James Jimenez at the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin can examine your condition and overall health to ensure the problem is identified and managed effectively. He will work with you to select the most suitable vein treatment and suggest preventative techniques to help protect your long-term vascular health.

Risk Factors for Developing DVT

Various factors can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. Though this condition can occur at any stage of your life, the risk increases considerably after the age of 40. Beyond age, the most common risk factors include:

  • Reduced mobility or inactivity (e.g., bed rest, flights or drives)
  • Obesity
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Personal history or family history of blood clots
  • Vein damage due to injury or trauma
  • Serious medical issues, such as heart disease or cancer

How To Prevent Blood Clots While Traveling

Exercise and Movement

In confined situations, it can be difficult to move around while traveling on a plane or in a car. However, there are some simple exercises and movements that can help to boost circulation in the legs and thereby prevent the blood from collecting and clotting. These movements include:

  • Standing up and stretching your legs whenever possible – On a flight, this means walking up and down the aisle every hour. In a car, this requires taking regular rest stops to walk around and stretch your legs.
  • Recline your seat whenever possible
  • When seated, lower the balls of your feet to the floor to help increase blood flow in the legs
  • Keep your leg area clear of bags and other items to ensure you can stretch out regularly
  • Bend and straighten the feet, toes and legs every half hour

Compression Stockings

Compression stockings help to promote blood circulation during extended periods of standing or sitting. They work by gently squeezing the limb and encouraging the vein and leg muscles to move blood more efficiently. Compression stockings can also help to prevent swelling and alleviate discomfort in the legs. If you have a moderate to high risk of developing DVT, wearing compression garments during long flights or drives can help to prevent blood clots from forming.

At the Vein Centers of Florida & South Baldwin, Dr. Jimenez offers graduated, prescription-strength compression hose for patients suffering from venous disease and associated symptoms. Compression therapy provides a simple and convenient way to ease discomfort, such as aching or heaviness in the legs, and boost circulation during long-distance trips and periods of inactivity.

Precautionary Measures

Healthy blood circulation is crucial for helping to reduce the risk of DVT. Avoiding alcohol and staying hydrated before and during travel can help to ensure the blood flows as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Avoiding sleeping pills is also advised as these are designed to slow down the body’s systems. Upon arrival at your destination, walking and moving around will help to restore normal circulation in the legs.

Schedule a Consultation at the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin

Taking preventive measures is crucial for protecting your vascular health while traveling. However, if you suspect symptoms of DVT or are concerned about your risk factors for developing venous issues, consulting a vein specialist is the most reliable and effective way to ensure you avoid further health complications.

As one of the leading vein experts along the Emerald Coast, Dr. James Jimenez is a highly recognized vein doctor with extensive experience managing all kinds of venous concerns and conditions. A pioneer in minimally invasive procedures, Dr. Jimenez has helped countless men and women achieve better vascular health with minimal side effects and little to no downtime. If you are concerned about your vein health or are preparing for a long trip, contact the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin at 1-800-910-8346 to schedule your consultation today. We can help to ensure a worry-free and relaxed journey.

Top 5 Best Workouts for Stronger Veins

July 15, 2019

Most people know that regular exercise is good for you. It can help to maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of disease and even improve brain function, but did you know that exercise is good for your veins as well? Exercise not only promotes healthy circulation and blood flow, but it also helps you to stay in shape. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for venous disease or venous insufficiency, of which varicose veins and spider veins are a symptom. When it comes to working out for vein health, however, not all exercises are created equally. At The Vein Care Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we’ve put together a guide of some exercises that can help to strengthen and improve your veins and those you should avoid if you are already affected by varicose veins.

1. Walking

Sitting or standing for prolonged periods is a big risk factor for venous insufficiency and varicose veins. Regularly sitting or standing for an extended amount of time results in poor leg circulation and makes it more difficult for your veins to move blood back to your heart. Consequently, blood can pool in your leg veins, increasing the pressure within and putting stress on the vein walls and valves. Over time, this weakens and damages them, leading to venous insufficiency.

If you sit or stand continuously at work, taking a break every half hour to walk around can help promote good blood circulation. Walking is a low-impact exercise appropriate for people of all ages and fitness levels. A brief, brisk walk, whether on your break at work at later in the evening, can have a surprisingly positive effect on not only the health of your veins but your overall health. Just 30 minutes of walking each day improves circulation, strengthens and stretches your leg muscles, and helps to maintain healthy blood pressure.

2. Bicycling

Bicycling is another low-impact exercise that is beneficial for vein health. Regular cycling can improve circulation without negatively impacting your joints and help to strengthen and build your leg muscles, such as the calves. By exercising the calf muscles, you improve the calf muscle pump — the muscle pump that facilitates healthy circulation by “pushing” blood in the leg veins upward to help ensure that it returns to the heart. Studies have found that poor calf muscle pump functionality may contribute to a progressive worsening of symptoms in patients with venous insufficiency, but regular exercise can help keep these muscles healthy.

3. Yoga

Yoga is a low-impact exercise that engages the whole body, helping to maintain fitness levels while improving circulation. By combining gentle stretches with a variety of poses that create a balance between strength and flexibility, yoga can help to alleviate some of the pain and swelling associated with venous insufficiency and varicose veins. The dual benefit of exercise and relaxation can also have a positive impact on stress levels and high blood pressure. Yoga won’t cure or prevent venous disease, but it can be beneficial for symptom management by helping to improve blood flow and circulation. Talk to your doctor first to determine which yoga poses might be beneficial to you and if there are any you should avoid.

4. Swimming

According to Harvard Health, swimming is the number one “best exercise” for improving overall health and well-being regardless of age or fitness level. Swimming is especially great for those with arthritis or low mobility due to the supportive buoyancy of the water, which protects the joints, muscles and veins from stress or injury. Muscle groups in the legs, arms, shoulders and abdomen are engaged all at once, allowing patients to strengthen and build muscle without the strain that other exercises can produce. Swimming also improves circulation and provides a great low-impact cardio workout for healthier veins.

5. Leg Lifts

Leg lifts and leg stretches are an exercise that can help aid the body in redirecting blood flow back to the heart while reducing discomfort and swelling due to venous insufficiency. Leg lifts don’t require any special equipment and can be done anywhere to strengthen the leg muscles and improve circulation. Simply lay flat on the floor and lift one leg at a time, holding it in the air for a few seconds before slowly lowering it and repeating the exercise with your other leg.

Exercises to Avoid

If you are affected by venous insufficiency and varicose veins, there are some exercises that can strain your leg muscles, joints and veins. Exercise that is too strenuous can have the opposite effect on circulation and impede blood flow, worsening the symptoms of venous disease.

Running

While running helps to strengthen your calf muscles, it can be hard on your joints and muscles. The high-impact nature of running puts a lot of pressure on your legs each time they hit the ground, which can strain or aggravate your veins. For patients with varicose veins, this may worsen symptoms such as discomfort and swelling. Running on softer terrain and wearing light compression stockings can help reduce the impact on your legs.

Weightlifting

Weightlifting increases abdominal pressure and strains on your veins, making it more difficult for blood to return to the heart. Proper techniques and lighter weights can make lifting safer, but patients with venous disease should talk to their doctor before doing any weight training. Resistance training may be a good option instead.

Sit-ups

Sit-ups and crunches also increase abdominal pressure, subsequently raising the pressure in the veins in your legs. This can lead to vein dilation and valve damage that causes blood to pool in the legs, worsening venous insufficiency and varicose veins.

When Exercise Isn’t an Option

At The Vein Care Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we recognize that regular exercise may not be feasible for some patients. If exercise isn’t an option, there are still a few things you can do to improve your circulation and overall vein health:

  • Wear compression stockings to help blood flow in the proper direction
  • Calf raises or rocking your heels back and forth can help activate the calf pump muscle to improve circulation
  • Elevate your legs to reduce swelling and keep blood from pooling
  • Rotate your ankles to help blood flow back to the heart

While exercise can’t cure or prevent venous disease, it can help to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms and improve the health of your veins. It’s important not to over-exert yourself, however, as this can cause strain and pressure that can cause swelling or discomfort. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can treat the symptoms of venous insufficiency, the vein care specialist Dr. James Jimenez at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin offers a variety of effective treatments for Florida patients in Pensacola or Destin, or Alabama patients in Foley. Contact or call The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin at 1-800-910-VEIN to set up a consultation or receive a free vein screening today!

Does Compression Therapy Really Work?

April 6, 2016

patient that needs compression stockings
Compression therapy is a commonly-prescribed treatment for symptomatic spider and varicose veins. This non-invasive therapy has been around for decades and is also used as a preventative measure against blood clot formation after surgery. Compression stockings have come a long way since their inception, with those unsightly stockings worn by grandma now replaced with more fashionable colors and styles. Despite their style evolution, one pressing question remains – do compression stockings really work the way they promise they will?

Explaining Compression

Compression therapy is designed to maximize blood flow in the lower legs. The lower leg veins have the incredibly difficult task of pushing blood back up the body to the heart. Because they experience more stress and strain than other veins, they are more vulnerable to damage over time. Damaged vessels allow blood to pool inside, which can lead to the appearance of spider and varicose veins if the damage is left unchecked.

Compression stockings fit tighter around the foot and then loosen gradually as they move up the leg. The purpose is to help those hard-working vessels move the blood in an upward direction easier, which lessens the strain on the veins. When the veins have a little extra help, the pressure inside them tends to go down as well. This can result in relief from uncomfortable symptoms like pain, heaviness and swelling.

Options in Compression

Compression stockings come in different strengths, measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), which allow your physician to tailor your compression to your specific needs. Strengths vary from 8mmHg to 40mmHg, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Mild compression is usually advised for tired, achy legs, while extra firm compression is generally reserved for those patients experiencing significant swelling or venous ulcers.

In most cases, compression stockings are put on before you get out of bed in the morning and taken off after you get into bed at night. Most patients will be advised to wear the stockings as long as the symptoms persist, which is usually until vein treatment is performed to eliminate the swollen veins completely. If compression therapy is recommended after a vein treatment, the duration of wear will depend on the specific treatment that was done and the severity of the vein condition.

“Curing” Varicose Veins

Compression therapy can be highly effective in managing painful symptoms associated with varicose veins. The stockings can also help prevent a current vein condition from worsening. However, compression therapy is not a useful method of “curing” varicose veins. If the compression therapy is stopped, the veins and symptoms are likely to get worse once again.

To completely eradicate your symptoms, you must eliminate the swollen veins that are causing them. At Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we offer a variety of treatments that can do just that, including:

  • Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) – This procedure uses laser technology to heat the inside of the vein, causing the vessel to seal shut so it can be reabsorbed by the body.
  • Sclerotherapy – This treatment involves injections of a sclerosing agent into the vein that seals the vein closed.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy – This procedure uses tiny incisions and small tools to remove the swollen vessel from the leg in small sections.

If you are suffering the pain and embarrassment of spider or varicose veins, our team can help. Contact the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin at 800-910-8346 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Jimenez and find out which treatment is the right one for you.