One of the main symptoms of a sedentary lifestyle, but also of age, is poor circulation in the legs. This condition manifests itself more in subjects who have a certain genetic predisposition or suffer from a circulatory disease. In this article we will look in detail at what causes poor circulation in the legs and what it consists of.
We will also provide you with guidelines to prevent and treat it as much as possible. Read on.
Poor circulation in the legs: causes and physiology
There are many causes that can slow blood circulation in our body, but this affects the legs more due to gravity. Generally, when we talk about poor blood circulation, we refer to venous blood, which comes from the tissues and then reaches the heart to oxygenate itself again.
Arterial circulation occurs under great pressure, but venous circulation usually goes much slower. To compensate, there are some valves that prevent blood reflux.
The reasons for poor leg circulation are numerous, but behind it there is almost always a common morphological disorder. This is the inability of the venous system to effectively transport blood to the heart. In a large number of cases, this morphological alteration is related to atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease that occurs with aging. It consists in the formation of atheroma plaques, composed of cholesterol, on the artery wall.
It usually happens in medium-sized arteries. In response to hardening of the arteries, the veins decrease in size. This variation can cause a destructuring of the venous valves.
In addition, the plaque of atheroma can rupture and form small lumps, which can travel to the venous system, adhere to the venous wall and form thrombi. This is the origin of diseases such as thrombophlebitis.
Although this disease occurs in all people to a greater or lesser extent with age, tobacco is a major agent that irritates the endothelium of the arteries and predisposes them to form atheromatous plaques.
A 50-year-old smoker could have arteries in a 70-year-old person. Therefore, to reduce the appearance of unwanted symptoms, it is essential to stop smoking immediately.
Another disease that is associated with poor leg circulation is diabetes. Diabetes in the advanced stages, especially when it is not kept under control, ends up triggering problems in the microcirculation due to the toxicity that excess glucose has on the capillaries. Symptoms are venous insufficiency, retinopathy, or diabetic foot.
Varicose veins are the main manifestation of venous insufficiency and, therefore, of poor circulation in the legs. Unfortunately, they also appear in young people who are predisposed to suffer from them ; in this case they are less severe.
However, in older people with cardiovascular disease, varicose veins can be an alarm symptom and it is advisable to treat the disease at its root. This venous insufficiency can also manifest itself with swelling in the legs. Swollen legs can have a variety of causes, and one of the most serious is venous insufficiency.
Prevention and treatment
In this section, we will provide some guidelines and advice for preventing or treating the symptoms of poor circulation in the legs, including varicose veins and tingling. It is worth noting that in many cases the symptoms coincide. However, the goal of these guidelines will be to improve circulation, so they can be used both to prevent symptoms from appearing and to treat them.
- Exercise. Sport increases the heart rate and increases the speed at which blood moves through the blood vessels. Exercise in general helps fight poor circulation in the legs.
- Follow a healthy and balanced diet. It is especially important to eat heart-healthy foods, such as the Omega 3 fats found in fish or nuts. Also, it is advisable to reduce your salt intake.
- Drink lots of water. This will stimulate the efficiency of our kidneys and prevent them from retaining fluids.
Relieve symptoms of poor circulation
If we have already noticed symptoms such as varicose veins, tingling or water retention, we can take steps to relieve them. However, we must keep in mind that effective definitive treatment must cure the underlying disease. In fact, if the poor circulation in the legs is not treated, the symptoms will reappear.
- Wearing compression stockings will prevent clots from forming, which could be dangerous if they reach the lungs. Furthermore, in this way we can reduce water retention.
- Massages are a great tool for improving superficial venous circulation. With palpation, we will help the blood move.
- Raising the legs can also help improve venous return.
In some cases, surgical or drug treatments may be required. There are minimally invasive surgeries that can remove varicose veins. As for drug treatment, this will consist of an anticoagulant to prevent thrombus formation.