Chronic Venous Disease

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Treatment of Chronic Venous Disease

Heavy, Painful & Swollen Legs

Varicose Veins

Prevention of Chronic Venous Disease

8/17/2023

Lifestyle Changes to Combat Chronic Venous Disease

Chronic venous disease (CVD) is a very common condition that affects up to 40% of the US population alone, independently of age and sex, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery.1 In spite of this chronic condition being so widespread, affecting both young adults and the elderly, it still goes undetected in many cases even though it is a degenerative disease that should be taken very seriously. Follow this link to complete a self-assessment to double-check if you might be suffering from the early stages of chronic venous disease. In any case, we highly recommend you consult your doctor about the use of venotonic drugs.

What you can do to limit the progression of chronic venous disease

One of the reasons for chronic venous disease developing is due to the malfunctioning of weak or damaged valves in the veins of the legs that struggle to pump the blood back to the heart, causing varicose veins, painful, and tired legs, among other discomforts and serious problems.2

Fortunately, and especially when the disease is diagnosed and caught early, the use of effective venoactive medication with its venous anti-inflammatory and venoprotective elements, combined with general lifestyle changes can have a noticeably positive impact to combat the deterioration and development of chronic venous disease.

When it comes to applying lifestyle changes to fight chronic venous disease, these are the main areas recommended:

 

obesity

Maintaining a healthy weight

Although what can be considered as a healthy weight can greatly vary between one person and another, when it comes to ensuring an adequate blood circulation, healthy veins and arteries,3 the fat stored in our bodies can have a negative impact. Studies have shown that obesity is an important risk factor for the development of chronic venous disease, with the levels of chronic venous disease being significantly more advanced in overweight and obese patients.4

One of the metrics used to determine what is considered a healthy weight is the body mass index (BMI) which is a simple calculation based on a person’s weight and height, and even though this method can be quite simplistic when it comes to understanding what constitutes a healthy weight for individual cases, it is a useful gauge when attempting to prevent the worsening of Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI).5

Ensuring that your BMI is within the recommended range for your individual case and having a balanced amount of muscle and fat in the body is a great way to help your veins and arteries and boost blood circulation.

 

healthy diet

The importance of a balanced and healthy diet

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight is definitely through a balanced diet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of foods and limits the consumption of sugars, saturated and industrially produced trans-fats, is essential to protect our bodies against several chronic diseases.6

As such, one of the first lifestyle changes recommended to prevent the worsening of CVI is a dietary change: make sure you take your time to first understand what type of diet you have been subjecting your body to, and the ways in which you could improve it to include more variety of fresh non-processed foods.

If possible, it is also recommended to reduce the amount of processed meat (such as bacon, sausages, deli meats, and cooked hams) which, due to their high salt content, can increase blood pressure and worsen venous disease.7

Highly processed foods (such as sweets, crisps, cakes, and fast food) tend to include different artificial flavorings and chemical preservatives (particularly nitrates), which can also harm our blood vessels and have a negative impact on our overall health.8

Follow this link to learn more about what to eat and drink to improve blood circulation.

 

potassium rich food

Avoid salt and embrace potassium

Try lowering the quantity of sodium (salt) in your daily diet, while simultaneously opting instead for potassium-rich foods (such as avocados, lentils, spinach, and bananas). Salt has been linked to increased blood pressure,9 swelling of the veins, and giving rise to varicose veins, whereas foods rich in potassium help regulate blood flow and blood pressure.10 A bonus to this healthy conversion is the fact that the increased addition of potassium into our cells results in the swift retreat of sodium from the area.

 quit smoking

Quit smoking

Quitting smoking can definitely be a life-changing decision when it comes to redefining our health. If you are suffering from any chronic venous disease, quitting smoking is not only highly recommended but essential to avoid the rapid worsening of venous insufficiency. The reason is that veins already damaged by smoke can rapidly lead to the worsening of chronic venous insufficiency by reinforcing poor blood flow. Smoking, along with many other health-damaging habits, has also been linked with an increase in the likelihood of suffering from thrombosis, atherosclerosis in the arteries,11 and stroke.12

 

exercise for cvd

Exercise on a daily basis

Exercise is one of the best positive steps to take in the fight against chronic venous disease as it helps improve the blood flow around the body and slows the progression of varicose veins and other venous disease.13

On top of improving our overall physical health, exercise has also been proven to boost our emotional well-being,14 therefore it is highly recommended to add exercise to your daily routine to strengthen your body, improve blood circulation, and to feel better. The better you will start to feel both physically and emotionally, the more likely these lifestyle changes will become cemented into your new routine.

Although it is always recommended to consult a specialist to ensure that you practice the safest and best types of exercises for your personal case, walking is considered to be one of the best exercises for those suffering from chronic venous disease.15

In this article we explain how to help with painful heavy legs during the working day with some small exercises.

 

compression stockings Attack the root of the problem

There are some alternatives to help relieve the symptoms of heavy legs, such as changing unhealthy eating habits or compression socks.16 However, certain venotonic drugs may be great allies to have a potential to prevent the progression of chronic venous disease. We recommend that you ask your doctor.

 

same position for prolonged periods of time

Avoid spending prolonged periods of time in the same position

Immobility is one of the risk factors of chronic venous disease.17 However, current modern lifestyles tend to encourage such patterns of lethargy and sedentary behavior, which can lead to blood pooling, swelling, and varicose veins, an increased danger of cardiovascular issues as well as other detrimental effects on our circulatory system.18

Whether you feel the discomfort and pain of heavy legs at the end of every working day or if you are planning to take a long-distance trip, keeping as active as possible is key for preventing the deterioration and heightened severity of chronic venous disease.

 

water to avoid dehydration

Limit drinks that can cause dehydration

Dehydration is a generally lesser-known risk factor when it comes to the emergence of varicose veins or chronic venous insufficiency.19 However, a lack of water can have a negative impact on blood circulation as when you are dehydrated there is a decrease in the amount of blood circulating through your body, which can dramatically increase both the heart rate and blood pressure.20

Water should always accompany you, and you should ensure to keep an adequate level of hydration throughout the day. In order to achieve this goal, it is worth being aware that there are certain drinks which can actually have a negative impact on hydration and hence blood circulation, such as alcohol, coffee, and many other caffeinated drinks.21

Although it might not be necessary to completely cut them out of your life, if you want to be hydrated, it is recommended to be conscious of their effects and to try to limit the consumption of these drinks when possible.

Lifestyle changes might appear a daunting prospect at first, but with patience and perseverance changes can be acquired. 

REFERENCES

  1. Chronic Venous Insufficiency | Society for Vascular Surgery. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://vascular.org/patients-and-referring-physicians/conditions/chronic-venous-insufficiency
  2. Eberhardt, R. T.; Raffetto, J. D.  (2014). Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Circulation, 130(4), 333–346, from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.006898#:~:text=Chronic%20venous%20insufficiency%20(CVI)%20describes,%2C%20skin%20changes%2C%20and%20ulcerations
  3. Keeping a healthy body weight, heart.org (2017). Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/losing-weight/keeping-a-healthy-body-weight
  4. Vlajinac, H.D.; Marinkovic, J.M.; Maksimovic, M.Z.; Matic, P.A.; Radak, D.J. (2013). Body Mass Index and Primary Chronic Venous Disease – A Cross-sectional Study. European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, 45(3), 293–298, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1078588412008313
  5. Musil D, Kaletova M, Herman J. Age, body mass index and severity of primary chronic venous disease. Biomed Pap Med Fac Univ Palacky Olomouc Czech Repub. 2011 Dec;155(4):367-71, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22336650/
  6. Healthy diet. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://www.who.int/initiatives/behealthy/healthy-diet#:%7E:text=A%20healthy%20diet%20is%20essential,are%20essential%20for%20healthy%20diet.
  7. David C. Paik; Thomas D. Wendel; Harold P. Freeman (2005). Cured meat consumption and hypertension: an analysis from NHANES III (1988-94). , 25(12), 0–1060, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531705002290
  8. Elizabeth L, Machado P, Zinöcker M, Baker P, Lawrence M. Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 30;12(7):1955, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7399967/
  9. Edwards DG, Farquhar WB. Vascular effects of dietary salt. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2015 Jan;24(1):8-13, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5431073/
  10. Haddy FJ, Vanhoutte PM, Feletou M. Role of potassium in regulating blood flow and blood pressure. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2006 Mar;290(3):R546-52. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00491.2005. PMID: 16467502, from  https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/reducing-sodium-and-increasing-potassium-may-lower-risk-of-cardiovascular-disease/#:~:text=Reducing%20sodium%20and%20increasing%20potassium%20may%20lower%20risk%20of%20cardiovascular%20disease
  11. What Is Atherosclerosis? (2022, March 24). NHLBI, NIH. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/atherosclerosis#:%7E:text=Atherosclerosis%20is%20a%20common%20condition,and%20don’t%20know%20it.
  12. Rahman MM, Laher I. Structural and functional alteration of blood vessels caused by cigarette smoking: an overview of molecular mechanisms. Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2007 Oct;5(4):276-92, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17979794/
  13. Sinikumpu, S. (2021, October 14). The association between chronic venous disease and measures of physical performance in older people: a population-based study - BMC Geriatrics. BioMed Central. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-021-02528-9
  14. Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/
  15. Best Exercises for Varicose Veins. (2020, November 13). WebMD. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/best-exercises-varicose-veins
  16. Rabe E, Partsch H, Hafner J, Lattimer C, Mosti G, Neumann M, Urbanek T, Huebner M, Gaillard S, Carpentier P. Indications for medical compression stockings in venous and lymphatic disorders: An evidence-based consensus statement. Phlebology. 2018 Apr;33(3):163-184, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846867/ 
  17. Adapted from Nicolaides A, Kakkos S, Baekgaard N, et al. Management of chronic venous disorders of the lower limbs. Guidelines according to scientific evidence. Part I. Int Angiol. 2018;37(3):181-254.1, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5574075/
  18. Gong JM, Du JS, Han DM, Wang XY, Qi SL. Reasons for patient non-compliance with compression stockings as a treatment for varicose veins in the lower limbs: A qualitative study. PLoS One. 2020 Apr 28;15(4):e0231218. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0231218, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22682948/  
  19. Spiridon M, Corduneanu D. Chronic Venous Insufficiency: a Frequently Underdiagnosed and Undertreated Pathology. Maedica (Bucur). 2017 Jan;12(1):59-61, from https://d-nb.info/1177365510/34
  20. Dunstan DW, Howard B, Healy GN, Owen N. Too much sitting--a health hazard. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Sep;97(3):368-76. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2012.05.020. Epub 2012 Jun 9, from https://theheartfoundation.org/2019/03/08/the-importance-of-water/#:~:text=Dehydration%20can%20negatively%20affect%20your,rate%20and%20your%20blood%20pressure.
  21. Behzadi et al. Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (2019) 21:3, from https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

2024