By Bryan Carter, MPA-C, Phlebology-Surgery
When sock lines or pant seams leave an indentation on ankles or calves, it’s not always caused by “normal” swelling. If you’ve noticed that your legs feel swollen, its either from fluid retention or inflammation. Both of which need to be addressed by a medical professional.
The most severe cause of swollen legs is Heart Failure. While there are several types of heart failure, the primary concern is that the heart cannot pump blood and oxygen efficiently throughout the body. The heart becomes enlarged due to its overcompensation of trying to adequately pump. The muscle mass of the heart thickens, and the heart tries to beat as fast as possible to keep up with its demand. The bottom line in heart failure is the heart can not pump blood around the body efficiently to meet the demands of the body and will cause a back up of fluids in the legs and body.
Individuals with peripheral vascular disease (PVD) have blood flow disruptions usually in the feet and legs, but it can also occur in the brain, arms, and heart. When the blood vessels are narrowed or damaged, the blood flow becomes obstructed, and other complications can coincide.
Individuals with arterial disease due to atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) often have PVD. Other blood vessel conditions like DVT’s (Deep Vein Thrombosis) varicose veins, pulmonary embolisms, and venous insufficiency are related to PVD.
When our veins are working correctly, they pump blood back to the heart. Valves in the veins are made to open and close in one direction if these valves or the wall of the veins are damaged, the blood is unable to work against gravity, and the result is a pooling of the blood in our legs. This pooling is called stasis and can present significant risks to one’s health.
When we ingest excessive salt, inflammation takes effect in our entire bodies, as water is pushed and retained into the arteries, which causes high blood pressure and makes the heart work extra hard. Too much salt increases your risks of strokes and heart failure, along with other disorders and diseases.
Potassium can help to flush some excess salt out of your body. That is why most salt alternatives have a higher ratio of potassium in the mix. Many foods that contain potassium are bananas, plums, coconuts, avocado, potato and many more. But eating potassium to flush out salt is not a good idea, as it will take an excessive amount and potassium, which can cause other adverse effects like arrhythmias and muscle weakness.
Blood Pressure Medication
Certain blood pressure medications like calcium channel blockers work by expanding the blood vessels. In some situations, this can lead to leaking into the tissue and exacerbates swelling.
Lack of Activity
A sedentary lifestyle causes poor blood circulation and blood will begin to pool into the lower extremities causing swelling. Most people can benefit from taking a brisk 30-minute walk or a 30-minute swim. Exercise increases circulation, improves nutrient and oxygen rich blood flow and helps you build strength and to lose weight. If you can work out harder, it’s extremely beneficial to get your heart rate up daily with cardiovascular exercise.
Diagnostic tests for determing your leg swelling’s root cause
Village Heart & Vein Center uses state-of-the-art testing equipment that provide the best results. These tests help evaluate the current conditions and map out a treatment plan. Some of the testing consists of leg and ankle venous or arterial dopplers, echo cardiac dopplers, blood work- up for heart failure, and IVUS venograms of for iliac compression. IVUS is an in-depth ultrasound of pelvic occlusion that may be causing blockages and swelling, which is quite common in elderly patients.
Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms!
If you have leg, foot and ankle swelling, this could potentially be a sign of a significant heart or peripheral vascular condition.
At Village Heart & Vein Center, Bryan Carter specializes in venous issues and leg health, taking great pride in getting to know his patients on an individual level. He is supported by a full-service cardiology practice. Mr. Carter is a previous Army combat medic who obtained his Masters in Physician Assistant studies with a thesis in Venous Disease and Treatment. Mr. Carter has been treating vein problems since October 2002 and was one of the first Physician Assistants to perform thermal ablation—a treatment that soon made traditional vein stripping extinct. Bryan has personally trained physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners throughout Florida and Georgia and is an active member of the American College of Phlebology. He is also one of only a few to be inducted into the American Venous Forum.
To find out more, please visit their website at heartofthevillages.com, or call their office to schedule your appointment at, (352) 674-2080.
8575 NE 138th Lane
Lady Lake , FL 32159
Toll Free: 1-855-432-7848 (Heart 4 U)