Healthy veins play a key role in good overall health, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and organs while also carrying away toxins and waste products to be eliminated.
Yet few people give any thought to their veins, likely because many vascular problems cause few symptoms in the early stages.
Varicose veins are one of the earliest indicators of a potential vein problem. But other vascular issues that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious, even life-threatening medical conditions cause few signs early on.
That’s one big reason why it’s important to do all you can to support vein health, even when you aren’t experiencing telltale symptoms of vein disease.
At Vein & Cardiovascular Center in Davenport, Sebring, and Orlando, Florida, Ashish Pal, MD, and his team help patients optimize their vascular health with vein evaluations and state-of-the-art treatments. They also offer education to help prevent vein-related problems.
Here are seven lesser-known habits that can improve your vein health — and overall health too.
1. Eat the right foods
A simple way to maximize vein health is to watch what you eat.
Certainly, avoiding foods that can increase your blood pressure (like excess sodium) is a fairly well-known way to avoid blood vessel damage. But foods with anti-inflammatory properties and age-battling antioxidants are also good.
Foods to consider include:
- Onions and garlic
- Oily fish
- Leafy greens
- Citrus fruits
Spices like cayenne pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon are also good for optimizing vein health, and they add a nice dose of flavor too.
2. Stay hydrated
Your blood is mostly liquid, so it shouldn’t surprise you that being dehydrated — even a little bit — can affect your blood flow, specifically the force needed to keep blood moving. Dehydration can also decrease the amount of blood in your veins.
What many people don’t know is that by the time you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So keep a water bottle handy and sip frequently, especially when it’s hot outside or during physical activity.
3. Skip the heels
High heels might make your legs look sexy, but they don’t do much for your veins. In fact, research shows they can interfere with normal circulation.
Blood flow in your legs depends on muscle contractions in your calves. Wearing high heels decreases normal calf muscle activity, resulting in decreased blood flow. If you must wear heels, limit how often you wear them and switch to flats whenever possible.
4. Pay attention to subtle signs
Most people know varicose veins are a potential sign of blood vessel trouble. But leg cramps, swelling in your feet, ankles, or hands, and numbness or tingling can also indicate a vein problem. Don’t ignore these signs — schedule an evaluation to learn why they’re happening.
5. Understand your risk factors
Like many other diseases, vascular disease is more common among people with specific risk factors, including:
- Family history of cardiovascular disease or varicose veins
- Smoking habit
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Spending lots of time standing or sitting
- Long-term use of certain medicines
Many vein problems are linked to hormonal changes, specifically fluctuations in estrogen levels. That means women may be at an increased risk for some vascular problems.
6. Avoid secondhand smoke
It’s common knowledge smoking can take a toll on your veins and vein health, but you may not know that breathing in secondhand smoke can be harmful too. To keep your veins as healthy as possible, avoid secondhand smoke and other harmful substances, like chemical fumes.
7. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep’s effect on health is well established, but did you know sleep can play a role in your vein health too?
Studies show lack of sleep is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased inflammation, higher blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and unhealthy changes in the tissue that lines your veins (the endothelium).
Keep your veins healthy
If you have symptoms of a vein problem or risk factors that increase your risk of a vein-related health issue, an evaluation is a good first step toward preventing serious complications.
To learn more about vein health or schedule an office visit with Dr. Pal and the team at Vein & Cardiovascular Center, book an appointment online or over the phone today.