The heart’s job is to get oxygen-rich blood to the entire body via the arteries; the veins then bring the deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Chronic venous inefficiency occurs when the veins can no longer do their job properly.
There are a number of risk factors for chronic venous inefficiency. Some of them include family history, blood clots, varicose veins, smoking and obesity. While the condition on its own is not life-threatening, it is extremely uncomfortable and even painful – and it has consequences for your everyday mobility. And though it’s true that medical treatment will vary from person to person, there are lifestyle changes you can make that will improve your quality of life.
Change #1: Weight Loss
If you are significantly overweight, the pressure that the extra weight exerts on your legs can exacerbate your condition. It might seem that weight loss after 60 or even 70 is close to impossible, but that’s not the case. Changes in nutrition are doable with some guidance and planning. If you live in an assisted living or skilled nursing community, talk to your staff; they’ll be happy to do whatever they can to improve your quality of life. And yes, cut down on your salt intake; it causes water retention in your legs which is the last thing you need right now.
Change #2: Exercise
Whether or not you need to lose weight, increasing your physical activity levels can have a real impact on your blood flow. Walking, stationary bikes and elliptical trainers can all be done at low impact and low intensity, so check out your facility’s gym if your current level of physical fitness is low. Stretches are helpful, too. But do consult a fitness instructor or physical trainer, and check everything with your primary physician to make sure it’s safe for you.
Change #3: Move Around
This isn’t the same as exercise. Moving around means making sure that you’re not in one position for a very long time. So if you find yourself sitting for long periods, take breaks and walk around. If you find yourself standing for too long, sit down or lay down. In any case, when you do sit, keep your legs elevated and not crossed.
Change #4: Compression Garments
Elastic compression stockings and socks put pressure on areas of the feet and legs. That pressure helps the blood pooling around down there to get back where it needs to go – to your heart. If you’re cringing when you read this, don’t – these items are no longer just the unsightly brown things they once were. They do come in a variety of pressure levels, so make sure you get a prescription from your doctor.
Change #5: Fashion
If you really love your high heels, save them for special occasions because they restrict the blood flow to the legs. Same goes for tight clothing and tight-fitting shoes.