Usually, we don’t give much thought to our circulation. We trust that blood is flowing freely throughout our heart, arteries, blood vessels, and capillaries. Properly circulating blood delivers vital nutrients, hormones, white blood cells, and oxygen to all the parts of the body. Disruption to or decline in circulation can lead to various health risks. These include peripheral artery disease, carotid artery disease, and coronary artery disease. Each of these conditions affects the overall risk of stroke and heart attack. The first step in protecting long-term health is to recognize what poor circulation looks like.
- Leg cramps or aching when you walk.
These uncomfortable sensations could indicate peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that currently affects 10 million Americans. The risk of peripheral artery disease increases with age and may develop as early as age 40. Several factors may contribute to this risk, including unregulated blood sugar and smoking. In addition to attending to these issues, a person with PAD is highly encouraged to walk for at least 30 minutes, three times a week.
- Foot pain when lying down.
In addition to causing pain when walking, peripheral artery disease could also lead to what is called resting pain. Foot pain when lying down indicates that circulation to the feet relies on the force of gravity for efficiency. This degree of PAD may only improve with medication or other medical treatment.
- Sudden, unusual shortness of breath or exhaustion.
This symptom could indicate that the heart is not receiving adequate circulation. However, subtle, shortness of breath and exhaustion need to be looked at as the possible symptoms of a heart attack. Prompt medical attention should be sought, especially if these sensations are accompanied by nausea or chest pain.
- A diabetic wound on the foot does not heal.
Diabetics are particularly susceptible to foot ulcers. This is because diabetic neuropathy can make it difficult to feel an initial trauma such as a blister or small cut. Because diabetes often coincides with hardening of the arteries, the circulation to the foot may be insufficient to heal the wound. People with diabetes should undergo a thorough health exam each year that includes their doctor observing their feet for indications of poor circulation.
The team at Minimally Invasive Vascular Center is proud to serve patients in the Laurel areas. For more information on how we treat poor circulation, call 855-803-MIVC.