15 Apr Poor Circulation
In a general sense, poor circulation is why our fingers and toes are the first things that get cold when we go outside in winter. Our extremities – meaning body parts that are farthest away from the heart – are the first to get cold partly due to exposure to the elements, but also because of the distance from the heart and our warm torsos, where the larger blood vessels flow.
Poor circulation, therefore, is a fairly natural and common occurrence in daily life. However, it can also be the result of very serious medical conditions, such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and blood clots.
The average adult has about 60,000 miles of blood vessels, according to the Arkansas Heart Hospital. Within this system circulates about 2,000 gallons of blood per day, meaning the 5 to 6 quarts of blood in the average person makes about 1,500 rotations per day throughout the body.
The blood is responsible for bringing oxygen to all the tissues of your body, for bringing infection-fighting cells to the location of an infection and for keeping your extremities warm. You can see how poor circulation has wide-ranging ramifications.
Symptoms of Poor Circulation
- Cold hands and feet
- Disorientation, dizziness, cognitive malfunctioning (such as memory loss)
- Poor digestion
- Sores in hands and feet
- Slow healing from wounds
- Overall weakness
- Heart attacks
Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of plaque inside your blood vessels. This can slow circulation down and trigger heart attacks if the plaque builds up in the arteries that feed the heart. (The heart pumps the blood, but it also a muscle that requires healthy blood flow to operate. The heart has its own set of arteries that branch off of the aorta.)
There are medical procedures and medications that can help reduce plaque in your blood vessels. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are critical, as well.
Complications from diabetes include higher risks of heart disease and stroke, coronary artery disease and poor circulation, especially in the feet.
Diabetes requires a patient to control glucose levels in the blood. High glucose levels can lead to problems through the nervous and circulatory systems. Frequent glucose level checks and regular checks ups with physicians are critical to keeping control of blood sugar levels and looking out for complications.
Care for diabetes requires frequent visits not only to general practitioners, but to other specialists, including eye doctors, podiatrists, cardiologists, endocrinologist, and others. Proper diet, exercise, and medications are required to keep glucose levels under control
Blood clots are your body’s way of stopping bleeding when you get cut or scratched. But blood clots within your circulatory system can be extremely dangerous, resulting in damage to organs, heart attacks, and stroke.
Blood clots can travel anywhere in the circulatory system. Damage occurs quickly when they end up blocking a blood vessel that feeds your organs.
A blood clot in the brain is what causes a stroke, which often results in permanent impairment.
Blood clots are often named after the location where they are found. In the legs or arms, a blood clot is called a deep vein thrombosis. In the lungs, a blood clot is called a pulmonary embolism. In an artery that feeds the heart, a blood clot is called a coronary thrombosis.
Treatment for blood clots includes blood thinner medication, rest, elevation and regular exercise.
Improve Your Circulatory System
There are several key lifestyle changes that can improve your circulation. These include:
- Quit smoking
- Regular exercise
- Lose weight
- Reduce stress – practice relaxation
- Control your blood sugar
- Regular checks ups with your doctor to control blood pressure and monitor health