How Sitting All Day Affects Your Body

September 22, 2020

The daily life of an American is spent in a seat, whether it be in an office chair, on a bus or train, in the car, or on the couch. It’s not that we are lazy. On the contrary, Americans are working intently at their computers, driving in long commutes and running kids to activities. After a long day, it feels good to curl up on the couch with a book or TV program. All of these activities make for a full life; however, almost everything we do involves sitting. And sitting all day may negatively affect the body. At The Vein Care Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we witness the negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle in the patients we serve. To improve your health, we want to help you better understand how sitting all day affects your body and offer some ideas regarding how you can add movement to your daily life.

How Sitting Affects Your Body

Chronic Illness

As sitting time increases, the risk of developing a chronic illness may also increase.

  • Diabetes: Long periods of sitting can contribute to insulin resistance in the body and increase blood sugar levels.
  • Heart disease: Excess sitting has been linked to an increase in prevalence of heart disease in some studies
  • Cancer: Although the exact reasons are unknown, it has been documented that people who sit for extended periods have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancers.

Vein Disease

Sitting for long periods of time can cause poor blood circulation, cause excessive pressure in the veins of the lower extremities and pooling blood in the legs. These factors can contribute to the development of vein disease. Vein problems can become more serious over time or progress into more severe health conditions.

  • Varicose veins: Sitting leads to poor blood circulation and can cause blood to pool in the legs. This pooling creates pressure within a vein that can cause it to twist, widen and bulge into a varicose vein. Although varicose veins are usually not deadly, they can be an indication of a more serious underlying vein problem. Furthermore, varicose veins can be painful and impede your quality of life.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Increased sitting, especially long-term sitting in a car or airplane, can cause a blood clot to form in the leg veins. DVT is a serious health concern, as the clot can inhibit blood flow. It can also be life-threatening if the blood clot breaks away and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.

Weight Gain

When you routinely sit for extended periods of time, you do not burn as many calories. Your muscles are inactive and therefore do not and cannot adequately process the food that you eat. As a result, fats and sugars remain in your system and can lead to weight gain.

Digestive Problems

Americans are so busy that they often eat lunch at their desks. Sitting and eating causes the contents in your abdomen to compress, thus slowing digestion. Decreased movement in the digestive tract can lead to bloating, constipation and cramping, which can cause pain and ultimately make you less productive at work.

Poor Posture

Sitting places undue pressure on the back and promotes poor posture from the neck to the base of the spine. You may start the day with every intention of sitting with your shoulders back and your core engaged. But as you get busy, you may not focus on your posture and find that your neck, shoulders and back begin to ache. Furthermore, the height of the desk and the position of your arms and hands to the computer keyboard can lead to hunching.

Muscle Weakness

Sitting allows muscles to relax and become stiff. Over time, core muscles can weaken, which may lead to posture problems or back pain. Also, hip joints, glutes and leg muscles can become tight from inactivity. The hips and legs are crucial to balance, so if their range of motion is limited, there is an increased risk of falling.

Mental Health

Movement and exercise release natural, “feel-good” chemicals in the brain that can improve mood, minimize anxiety, reduce depression symptoms, boost memory and enhance overall brain function. Adding small breaks and increasing movement throughout the workday can break up the monotony of your shift while promoting mental and physical wellness.

Exercise is Not Enough

An exercise routine that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat is recommended for overall health. However, research shows that routine exercise may not be enough to combat the negative impacts of sitting all day. People who exercise tend to have fewer health problems, but they are not immune to the adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

How to Fight the Effects of Sitting All Day

You may be thinking to yourself: I have a jam-packed schedule. There is no time to take breaks during the day and no way to avoid sitting. We understand that sitting is part of your day. However, there are small changes you can make to interrupt long stretches of sitting and improve your overall health. Try some of these suggestions and think of other ways to add movement into your daily life, building up to spending half (four hours) of your workday moving in some capacity:

  • When you sit, do so with your feet flat on the floor. Avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
  • Take breaks every two hours to stand, stretch or walk a quick lap around the office.
  • Buy an adjustable desk that allows you to alternate sitting and standing throughout the day. Note that we do not recommend standing for long periods, as that can also negatively impact your health. Finding a balance between the two is optimal for your wellbeing.
  • Use a stability ball as your office chair. It encourages good posture and activates stomach, back and leg muscles as you balance on the ball.
  • Whenever possible, add “accidental exercise” to your day: take the stairs, park in the back of the lot, walk every aisle of the grocery store or get off one bus stop before your usual stop and walk the rest of the way to your destination.
  • Add habits like marching in place while on the phone, “writing” the ABC’s with your feet or doing leg extensions and other leg exercises that can be performed while sitting at your desk.
  • If you like to watch TV, do so while riding a stationary bike or walking on the treadmill.
  • Sitting often occurs inside—the office, the car, a bus or at home in the easy chair. Take a few minutes to step outside. Being in nature is good medicine, and it just might encourage a walk around the block, gardening or outdoor puttering.

The Vein Care Center is Here to Help

If you are experiencing leg pain or varicose veins, or if you want to learn more about how to increase your activity level, you have come to the right place. Dr. James Jimenez and the caring staff at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin are experts in vein disease diagnosis, treatment and management. With your commitment to a more active lifestyle, The Vein Center team can provide vein treatments and lifestyle recommendations to help you feel better. To schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Pensacola or Destin, Florida, or Foley, Alabama, call us today at 800-910-VEIN.

How Could Your Job be Affecting Your Vein Health?

September 4, 2020

vein health jobsWhen we think about our veins, how our jobs affect them probably doesn’t cross our minds. Americans spend about one-third of their lives at work, however, and our workplace habits and behaviors follow us home long after we punch out for the day. The amount of time we spend sitting or standing, what we ate for lunch and how we respond to stress all play a role in the health of our veins. In fact, more than 30 million men and women in the U.S. suffer from vein problems that may stem from a sedentary lifestyle or desk job that makes them more prone to developing these issues.

How can this be? Well, our veins are pretty complex. There is a lot going on to make sure blood circulates throughout the body properly. Oxygen-rich blood is carried from the heart by the arteries and delivered to your organs, tissues and cells. When that blood is depleted, it’s picked up by capillaries and travels through the venous system back to the heart. Unlike arteries, leg veins have to work against gravity to do their job and are equipped with tiny, internal valves that control the flow of blood. This ensures that it only goes in one direction — back to the heart. Sometimes these valves can become weakened or damaged, making it difficult for blood to get where it needs to go. If they don’t function properly, blood can flow backward and begin to pool, causing numerous issues for affected veins.

Certain occupations can negatively affect your vein health by making it harder for your veins to circulate blood back to the heart. We’ll explore why jobs that require long periods of sitting or standing, cause a high amount of chronic stress, or encourage a poor diet have the biggest impact on your vein health and what you can do to combat these effects.

Sitting or Standing Too Much

There is a long-established connection between sitting or standing too much and venous issues. This is because it’s hard work for your veins to fight against gravity. When we’re immobile for long periods of time, it becomes even harder for your veins to move blood upward and back to the heart. Blood begins to pool in the legs, pressure within the veins increases, and the walls and valves are weakened and damaged over time. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to improve blood flow and minimize your risk of developing venous issues:

  • Wear compression socks to improve circulation
  • Do leg exercises, such as calf raises, toe touches and squats
  • Shift positions and alternate between sitting and standing
  • Take short walks throughout the day
  • Prevent restricting blood flow with comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
  • Prop your feet up to help your blood flow back to the heart

Movement is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your vein health. Blood flow in the veins gets help in combating the effects of gravity from muscle pumps, which push blood upward with each contraction. Walking, running and other movements activate this mechanism for healthy circulation. There are some exercises, such as weight lifting and high-impact workouts, that may be counterproductive because they increase pressure within your veins, so it’s best to talk to your doctor before beginning a fitness routine to find out what’s safe for you.

An Unhealthy Diet

It might be wise to skip the cafeteria line and pack your own lunch to bring to work. We all know eating a balanced diet is ideal for our health and wellness, but poor eating habits aren’t only bad for the waistline. High blood pressure, fluid retention and weight gain are some diet-related factors that can contribute to venous issues. Sodium-rich foods can increase blood pressure and stress your veins, while sugary and fatty foods can contribute to weight gain. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for vascular disease and unhealthy veins, as carrying around extra weight strains your circulatory system and can worsen any existing symptoms you may have. Over-processed foods should also be avoided, as they often contain little fiber, lots of sodium and ingredients that can cause inflammation. Nixing these unhealthy foods from your diet can positively impact your vein health and overall wellness.   

Making healthier food choices can not only improve and maintain your vein health but also lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. Certain foods can help your arteries and veins stay strong and elastic, while others may alleviate existing symptoms. Fruits and vegetables top the list for vein-healthy foods, as they supply an abundance of antioxidants and bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are found in most fruits and vegetables and are known for their ability to reduce inflammation and may strengthen the walls of the veins. Bioflavonoids can also be found in tea, chocolate, dried beans and seeds. Foods rich in fiber are important for your veins as well, helping to improve digestion, alleviate constipation and maintain a healthy weight. Finally, drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated will help your blood flow more easily through your veins and lower your risk of blood clots and venous insufficiency.                                                                                                                                                             

Stress and Cortisol

If your job is stressing you out, it may impact your health more than you think. Stress can manifest in many different ways — headaches, trouble concentrating, insomnia and fatigue are all common effects. When you’re feeling stressed, you’re also less likely to take good care of your body and eat healthy, exercise or get a good night’s sleep. When we experience these effects long-term, they can impact the health of your veins and vascular system.

Many of these effects can be traced back to cortisol, the stress hormone. When you’re stressed, cortisol tells your body that you need more fuel and makes us crave “comfort foods,” those high in sugar and carbohydrates. Cortisol also activates a “flight or fight” response that increases your blood pressure and restricts blood flow throughout the body. Although these functions were useful in the dangerous, life-threatening situations our ancestors had to endure, in modern society, they may do more harm than good. Chronic stress has been linked to weight gain, poor circulation, heart disease, digestive issues and high cholesterol. Some people who are stressed are more likely to smoke, drink and otherwise deal with it in unhealthy ways.

Together, all of these effects combine to increase your risk factors for venous issues and exacerbate any existing conditions. Learning how to manage your stress in healthy ways can alleviate many of these symptoms and help keep your veins in good shape. Although everyone has different stress-management techniques, some common methods include:

  • Fitness and workout routines to lower stress levels
  • Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises
  • Make time for hobbies and other fun activities
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Improve time management and organizational skills

The Vein Care Center of Florida for Your Vein Care Needs

So your job is wreaking havoc on your veins — now what? The Vein Care Center of Florida & South Baldwin can help you improve your vein health and treat any existing conditions you may have. Dr. James Jimenez is a renowned expert in the field of vein care and provides minimally invasive in office options to eliminate spider veins or varicose veins and alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of venous insufficiency. The Vein Care Center of Florida & South Baldwin provides free vein screenings for patients in Pensacola or Destin, or Alabama patients in Foley, and can help find the right treatment for you. If you’re ready to learn more about improving your vein health, contact or call us today at 1-800-910-VEIN to schedule a consultation or set up a free vein screening!

Medical Vein Treatment vs. Natural Remedies: Common Myths Debunked

August 25, 2020

Your grandparents probably had them. Your parents might have them. Maybe you’ve even noticed those raised, twisted veins making an appearance on your legs. If you don’t have varicose veins, count yourself lucky. An estimated 20% of all adults will be affected by varicose veins at some point, making it a prevalent concern among both doctors and patients. Although widely considered a cosmetic issue, varicose veins are a symptom of a more significant problem unfolding within the venous system. You probably know that your veins are responsible for transporting deoxygenated blood back to the heart, but to accomplish this, they must work against gravity. To move blood upward, your veins have special valves that keep things going in the right direction. Sometimes these valves can fail, creating a condition known as venous insufficiency. When your valves no longer work properly, blood has difficulty flowing upward and begins to pool, causing affected veins to swell, twist and bulge. These varicose veins tend to progress and can cause significant medical issues if left unattended.

Due to the prevalence of varicose veins, the internet is flooded with natural remedies, quick fixes and mind-boggling treatments that promise to “cure” varicose and spider veins, as well as other venous diseases. At The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we want to explore some of these claims to help patients avoid ineffective remedies and debunk the myths surrounding vein treatments.

Myth # 1: Apple cider vinegar can cure varicose veins — FALSE

Apple cider vinegar is praised as a cure-all for everything from obesity to arthritis. While research shows that apple cider vinegar does have some positive health effects, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that it can cure or treat varicose veins.

The idea behind apple cider vinegar as a cure for varicose veins is that it has anti-inflammatory properties and may enhance circulation. While improving blood flow and reducing inflammation could help treat some of the symptoms of varicose veins, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that apple cider vinegar does either. Furthermore, apple cider vinegar is highly acidic and could irritate the skin if applied directly, the method often suggested for varicose veins. In reality, varicose veins are a symptom of venous insufficiency, a progressive condition which cannot be cured with fermented apples and other natural remedies. This type of myth demonstrates why seeking the guidance of a medical professional such as Dr. Jimenez at The Vein Care Center of Florida & South Baldwin is so important — if not treated properly, varicose veins can lead to complications such as blood clots and ulcers.

Myth # 2: Exercise is bad for vein health — FALSE

Many people worry that exercise can cause varicose veins, when in fact just the opposite is true. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for venous disease and patients who are overweight are not only more likely to suffer from venous insufficiency, but they are also more likely to experience complications. Excess weight makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout the body, increases pressure on your veins and restricts blood flow. Those who are obese are also more likely to have sedentary lifestyles. Over time, the combined effects of obesity and inactivity contribute to strained, weakened veins and damaged valves — a recipe for venous insufficiency and varicose veins.

Regular exercise not only helps patients maintain a healthy weight, but it can also improve vein health and circulation. This can reduce the symptoms of venous insufficiency and help prevent the formation of varicose veins. Low-impact exercises such as biking, walking and swimming are ideal for strengthening the leg muscles and improving blood flow. Your legs contain calf muscles which have special pumps, called calf muscle pumps, that are responsible for “pushing” blood upward to facilitate healthy circulation. This reduces pooling blood caused by valve damage associated with obesity and prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Despite the health benefits of regular exercise, it cannot cure venous insufficiency or eliminate existing varicose veins. It can, however, reduce uncomfortable symptoms, help you maintain a healthy weight and build muscle to promote better circulation for stronger veins.

Myth # 3: Compression stockings may increase circulation — TRUE

Compression stockings are specialized medical socks that are worn to provide even, consistent pressure to the legs to treat the symptoms of venous insufficiency. Unlike the arterial system, veins don’t have a pump to help transport blood back to the heart. Instead, our veins must rely on muscle contractions and one-way valves to fight against gravity and ensure that everything flows in the right direction. Venous insufficiency happens when these valves fail and blood flows backward and pools.

Compression socks apply pressure to “squeeze” the legs and veins to help blood flow upward. These socks may provide a number of benefits, such as improving circulation, reducing swelling, minimizing bruising and blood clot formation, and controlling discomfort. Compression stockings come in a variety of sizes, colors or styles and are made of a strong, elastic material that fits tightly around the leg to reduce venous pressure. To ensure they function properly, it’s important to have these specialized socks properly fitted; too tight and they restrict blood flow, too loose and they provide little benefit. Dr. Jimenez at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin can evaluate you properly to prescribe the proper amount of compression you need and recommend other effective treatments for venous insufficiency.

Myth # 4: Medical vein treatments are painful and dangerous — FALSE

Some patients are concerned that treating venous insufficiency by removing the affected veins might be dangerous or harmful. Veins with damaged valves are no longer working properly, making it harder for blood to efficiently return to the heart. Since it can’t flow upward, it pools in the legs and causes unsightly and uncomfortable symptoms, such as varicose veins. This puts extra strain on your circulatory system and may lead to chronic swelling, severe skin changes and venous ulcers over time. Since damaged or malfunctioning veins interfere with proper blood flow, treating them actually improves your circulation by rerouting blood to healthy veins.

Advances in technology and surgical techniques has led to vein treatments that are safer and more effective than outdated procedures such as vein stripping. Dr. Jimenez at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin is a pioneer in minimally invasive treatments, earning him a reputation as the vein expert of the Emerald Coast. Modern procedures such as Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), conventional or ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy and scleroablative therapy can effectively treat varicose and spider veins with minimal downtime, fewer complications and enhanced patient comfort. Dr. Jimenez has helped make minimally invasive procedures such as these the new standard for treating vein diseases.

Myth # 5: Venous diseases are cosmetic issues and don’t need to be treated, so vein screenings aren’t beneficial — FALSE

Many patients believe that venous diseases such as varicose veins are a cosmetic concern that doesn’t require medical treatment. While unsightly, the appearance of varicose or spider veins also points to problems within the venous system. Venous disease can progress over time and cause uncomfortable symptoms such as swelling, soreness and discomfort that can negatively impact your quality of life. The pooling, backed up blood that causes varicose veins may also lead to blood clots, deep vein thrombosis and other complications if left untreated. Even if your symptoms aren’t bothering you, we recommend an evaluation with Dr. Jimenez and the qualified specialists at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin to properly assess your condition.

At The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we periodically offer free vein screenings designed to evaluate your vein health for an accurate diagnosis. Early detection of venous disease can help identify vein problems before they develop into a more significant concern, making screenings an important diagnostic tool for all patients. Dr. Jimenez performs all assessments himself. After your vein screening, Dr. Jimenez will explain the results and help you explore treatment options suited for your unique situation.

The internet provides patients with a wealth of information regarding medical procedures and DIY remedies, but sometimes it can be difficult for patients to know which treatments are harmful, helpful or downright dangerous. At The Vein Clinic of Florida & South Baldwin, our goal is to educate patients so they can make an informed decision regarding the management and treatment of venous disease. With locations along the Emerald Coast in Florida in Pensacola and Destin, and in Alabama in Foley, we welcome patients in for a consultation or free vein screening. Contact or call us today at 1-800-910-VEIN to start improving the health of your veins today.

How Much do you Know About Deep Vein Thrombosis?

August 19, 2020

Many people have heard of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and know the two most important things there are to know about it: DVT can be dangerous and potentially deadly. DVT is a condition where a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the lower extremities. At the Vein Center of Florida and South Baldwin, we have extensive experience diagnosing and treating vein disease and we understand that knowledge is power. For that reason, we compiled the information below to help our patients understand this often silent, but threatening, condition.

What Causes Blood Clots?

Clotting is a protective mechanism within the body that stops blood from gushing after a cut, injury or surgery. In most cases, a blood clot will dissolve once its job is done. However, in some people, blood will thicken to a jelly-like state that allows a blood clot to form and remain in a vein or artery. This becomes concerning because the blood clot blocks blood flow and causes pain, swelling and redness. Furthermore, if a piece, or all, of the blood clot in a vein breaks away, it can move to a lung and cause a life-threatening condition called a pulmonary embolism.

Blood Clots in Arteries and Veins

A blood clot can form in any artery or vein throughout the body. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Veins push oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. When a clot forms in an artery, it is called an arterial clot. Symptoms are usually immediate and severe. Blood clots in veins tend to develop slowly over time. When a blood clot forms in a deep vein within the body, generally in the legs, it is called DVT.

Am I at Risk for Developing DVT?

Men and women of every age and background can develop DVT; however, some people are more susceptible to developing blood clots if they:

  • Are overweight
  • Smoke
  • Recently had surgery
  • Are bedridden
  • Are traveling for extended periods in a car or airplane
  • Use birth control pills
  • Use hormone replacement medication
  • Are 60 years of age or older
  • Have a family history of blood clotting issues
  • Have a chronic disease

What are the Risk Factors for Developing DVT?

Certain factors play a role in causing DVT to develop:

  • Surgery: The risk of developing DVT increases with any operation, but DVT is more common in surgeries that involve the pelvic region or lower extremities. The body is in clotting overdrive, trying to stop the bleeding caused by the operation. Also, damage caused to blood vessels during surgery promotes blood clotting. These reactions from the body increase the risk of developing DVT after surgery.
  • Inactivity: Sitting or lying for extended periods can cause blood flow to slow. Sluggish blood flow allows blood to remain in the vein longer than normal. The stagnant blood can change into a gel-like consistency, which makes it more likely to clump together and form a blood clot.
  • Injury: Trauma to the body, in the form of an accident or injury that damages a blood vessel, may appear as bruising. Still, underneath the skin, the injured vessels may be excessively clotting, which can lead to the formation of a blood clot.
  • Hypercoagulable blood: Blood that quickly and easily clots can lead to blood clots. Certain medications, such as estrogen, can promote blood clots. In addition, some diseases (lung disease, heart disease, cancer or certain bowel diseases) can make blood more apt to clot.

What are the Signs of DVT?

Death is the first sign of DVT in approximately 25 percent of people who have DVT progress to a pulmonary embolism. Because DVT can silently develop in the body over time, it is important to watch for the following leg symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Worsening pain when flexing or bending the feet
  • Cramping
  • Swelling
  • Patches of redness
  • Skin discoloration
  • Skin that is abnormally hot to the touch

If part or all of a DVT breaks away and moves to the lungs, some symptoms of a pulmonary embolism may include:

  • Skin discoloration
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sharp chest pain that worsens as you breathe
  • Increased leg pain
  • Dramatic swelling

How Can I Avoid Getting DVT?

A lack of movement or inactivity most commonly causes DVT. Being sedentary causes the blood to become sluggish and not flow as smoothly and efficiently as it does when the body is mobile. For this reason, taking proactive steps while traveling, having surgery or during a prolonged illness can minimize risk of DVT.

  • Traveling: If you plan to sit in a car or airplane for longer than two hours, consider wearing compression stockings to improve circulation. Wear loose clothing that doesn’t bind or pinch any part of your body. Frequently flex your legs and “write” the ABC’s with your feet to promote blood flow. If possible, stand up and walk periodically.
  • Surgery: Your health care team will take measures during and after surgery to promote blood flow within your body. A special compression wrap or device may be placed on each calf. This wrap fills with air and depressurizes to massage the calf and promote circulation. During and after surgery, you may be encouraged to wear compression stockings. As soon as it is safe, your health care team will get you up and moving.
  • Prolonged Illness: Sometimes, the flu or an illness can involve a lot of bed rest. To ward off DVT, rest with your feet elevated. Consider wearing compression stockings. Shift positions when lying down. Stretch and flex your legs and “write” the ABC’s with your feet to promote circulation.

Seek an Expert Opinion

DVT is a silent but deadly condition that affects almost one million Americans each year. It is for this reason it is important to have an understanding of what it is and ways to minimize risk. If you are concerned you may have a DVT, it is important that you seek immediate medical evaluation at an emergency room or urgent care center. Based upon evaluation and findings, you may have an underlying venous condition, such as venous insufficiency, which can be treated by an experienced physician. Dr. James Jimenez and his caring team at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin have the expertise to care for you and help reduce the risk in many patients. We offer convenient locations in Pensacola and Destin, Florida, or Foley, Alabama. Call us today at 1-800-910-VEIN to schedule an appointment or to receive a free vein screening.