Poor circulation is a common feeling that affects millions of people every year. It can range from something as benign as your leg falling asleep after sitting for a long time to something life-threatening, such as a blood clot.
The body’s circulation system sends blood and oxygen throughout your entire body. Poor circulation, also known as poor perfusion, occurs when blood flow to a specific part of your body is reduced.
It’s important to note that poor circulation isn’t a condition itself but a result of other factors. Understand the potential causes of poor circulation and watch out for the signs to ensure your body is as healthy as possible.
To prevent poor circulation in your body and work to improve blood flow, it is important to understand what the main causes of it are. Poor circulation is a direct result of several different conditions, with each condition having its own unique causes that can generate numerous symptoms.
Here are three common causes of poor circulation that generally require a trip to a medical professional for treatment.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that causes the body’s blood vessels and arteries to narrow. If left untreated, arteries can stiffen due to plaque buildup and lead to more aggressive symptoms such as a heart attack or stroke. PAD is common among adults who are over 50 years old. Additionally, people who smoke are at a higher risk of developing PAD earlier in life.
Varicose veins are a common cause of poor circulation, as well. A varicose vein is a vein that becomes enlarged due to a valve failure. These veins usually have a damaged and engorged appearance and are often found on the back of your legs.
Because the veins have been damaged, they can’t move blood as quickly and efficiently as other veins in the body, leading to poor circulation.
Unfortunately, there is no good way to prevent varicose veins as they are mostly determined by your genetics. Women and adults who are overweight are more likely to have varicose veins, although younger people can develop them, as well.
One of the more serious causes of poor circulation, blood clots form when certain parts of your blood thicken, which creates a near-solid mass buildup. The clots block the flow of blood, which leads to poor circulation. A blood clot can occur anywhere in your body, but they most often occur in your legs and arms.
Blood clots can be dangerous, and one of the first signs you may have is poor circulation in your appendages. If a blood clot breaks away and enters your heart or lungs, it can lead to a stroke, heart attack or even death.
Common Symptoms of Poor Circulation
Have you ever woken up from a nap or stood up after a long car ride to the feeling that your leg has “fallen asleep”? At its core, this is the most basic symptom of poor circulation. While the symptoms of poor circulation are not always apparent, when there are warning signs of bad blood flow, it is usually fairly easy to tell what they are. Here are four of the most common symptoms of when your body is feeling poor circulation and blood flow:
1. Tingling and Numbness
The most common symptom of poor circulation is a feeling of numbness and tingling, which usually occurs in the extremities, such as the fingers, toes, hands and feet.
Tingling and numbness usually occur because something is restricting the flow of blood, meaning that blood cannot reach the extremities in sufficient quantities, causing a sensation of numbness or pins and needles.
A reduction of blood flow due to poor circulation can also cause your extremities such as fingers, toes, hands and feet to feel much colder than the rest of your body. This can occur due to a natural process when blood cannot flow through your body at a normal rate.
To make up for the lack of blood flow, the body will rush blood to the main organs, such as the heart and lungs, and away from the extremities. This will cause the temperature in your extremities to lower, leading to that cold sensation you may be experiencing.
3. Muscle Cramps
Another common cause of poor blood flow and circulation is the cramping of muscles, usually around your legs, feet, arms and hands. When blood does not circulate correctly, the oxygen carried in blood fails to reach muscle tissues effectively, which can result in muscles stiffening and cramping.
A sign that poor circulation may be leading to serious health issues is the swelling of lower extremities such as legs and feet. If blood does not circulate properly, it can cause fluid to accumulate over time.
This fluid accumulation is called “edema” and can be an early sign of heart failure due to the heart being unable to circulate the adequate supply of blood needed to keep the body running. Edema occurs when blood that fails to circulate, collects into groups creating pressure and forcing fluid from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues.
How to Improve Circulation on Your Own
In many cases, poor circulation is fairly easy to treat and resolve just by tweaking your daily routine. In more extreme cases, a doctor may have to prescribe medication that can improve the symptoms of poor circulation and prevent the buildup of life-threatening blood clots.
Be sure to speak to your doctor or cardiologist before making any lifestyle changes to ensure you’re doing the best for your body. Your doctor may suggest you:
- Exercise: Exercising is a great way to quickly improve blood circulation, particularly in your legs and lower body. One of the best exercises for poor circulation is simply walking, which can help promote the formation of new blood vessels in the legs, increasing blood flow. Walking can also help to improve cardiovascular health by increasing the heart rate without requiring demanding or strenuous effort.
- Hydrate: When the body is dehydrated, your blood retains sodium, which thickens it and makes it harder for it to be circulated throughout your body. Try to drink between 11 and 16 cups of water per day to adequately keep the body hydrated and blood properly circulating.
- Watch your diet: Eating healthy is crucial to improving blood flow and circulation throughout your body. Consider implementing heart-healthy foods such as leafy green vegetables, whole grains and fatty fish into your daily diet.
Speak With a Cardiologist in Texas About Poor Blood Flow With Modern Heart and Vascular
Improving your blood circulation is important to live a comfortable lifestyle and live as healthy as possible. If you think you may be experiencing poor circulation or other heart concerns, reach out to Modern Heart and Vascular. Our state-of-the-art cardiovascular practice focuses on prevention, using cutting-edge technology and tools to address a variety of concerns, including PAD.
This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.