Having poor blood circulation can put you at a major health risk and it can be especially worrisome for senior citizens. Poor blood circulation and the common symptoms associated with it are normally a sign of a much more serious health disease such as peripheral artery disease, stroke, heart attack, and blood clots.
The heart is a muscular organ that, along with the blood vessels helps circulate the blood and oxygen around the body. If there is a problem with the cardiovascular system it can cause major health issues related to body movement and pain.
Symptoms of Poor Blood Circulation
Unlike other health problems there many common, noticeable symptoms. Generally the symptoms are able to be felt in the hands and feet as well as parts of the face at times. Some normal symptoms associated with poor circulation include:
- Cold or numbness of hands, feet, fingers, toes
- Swelling in feet, ankles, and legs
- Digestive issues
- Ulcers in the legs or feet
- Changes in skin color
Numbness of the extremities is one of the most common symptoms of poor blood circulation, when the blood is not reaching the body properly is can cause a sensation of being touched by pins and needles. Similarly when the blood is not flowing properly, there can be a temperature fluctuations in the skin and hands and feet.
One of the most common causes of poor blood circulation is atherosclerosis, it occurs when there is a plaque build up in the blood vessels and arteries which restricts blood flow.
Again these symptoms could be pointing toward a more serious health issue. There are a number of health risks associated with poor blood circulation.
How to Improve Circulation
One simple way to improve circulation and reduce the risk of getting some cardiovascular diseases would be to increase movement activity. The exercise does not have to be strenuous or hard, doing something simple like going for a walk or going to the grocery store would count as exercise. It just needs to be something that gets the blood flowing properly to avoid blood clots and other complications.
There are a number of medications that can be used if the poor circulation has progressed to cause blood clots. Blood thinning medications and blood clot breakers can be used to prevent major health problems.
Peripheral Artery Disease
One common circulatory problem is peripheral artery disease (PAD). It is a disease in which narrowed arteries reduce the blood flow to the limbs, normally the legs. This problem causes notable leg pain while walking calle claudication.
Claudication symptoms include muscle pain and cramping in the legs or arms which occurs upon being active. The location of the pain depends on where exactly the clogged artery is, however leg and calf pain seem to be the most common. Other common symptoms for the disease include:
- Sores on the toes, feet, or legs that won’t heal
- Slow growth of toenails
- No pulse or weak pulse in the legs or feet
Following a diagnosis, there are a few treatment options available. For instance, to manage pain symptoms one simple thing that you can do is to resume physical activities. Making other lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or other tobacco use is the single most important thing you can do to lower the risk of complications according to Mayo Clinic. Medication is another option. For example, cholesterol-lowering medication and high blood pressure medication can both be used to reduce the risk of PAD.
In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary to clear a blocked or narrowed artery.
Another major cardiovascular risk that comes from poor circulation is a ischemic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when an artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked, normally by a blood clot.
Some common symptoms that occur during a stroke include:
- Sudden weakness
- Paralysis or numbness of parts of the body
- Loss of consciousness
- Sudden and severe headache
After being diagnosed with a ischemic stroke that are medications that are used to dissolve or bust clots in the arteries. It can take weeks, months, or even years to fully recover from a stroke while others have long-term disabilities. Maintaining care and rehabilitation can not only help you recover but can help prevent subsequent strokes.
Dangers of Smoking
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year. In 2016, it was reported that 15.5 percent of all Americans are current smokers.
Smoking has a number of disastrous health risks all around, including blood circulation. The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells, damaging the function of the heart and the structure and function of the blood vessels.
Stopping smoking is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks or strokes. However, quitting can be difficult. A few things you can do to try to help you quit would be to prepare for the withdrawal symptoms you are likely to face, set a quit date and tell friends and family about it to help gain support, and consulting a doctor about medicines and over-the-counter products that can help you quit smoking.
There are a number of cardiovascular risks associated with poor blood circulation. Blood circulation is something that everyone can have a problem with but is more prevalent in older individuals. If not taken care of, bad circulation can lead to health problems like strokes, heart attacks and blood clots. There are some preventative measures that can be taken to improve blood circulation like quitting smoking and increasing physical activity. Some of things can be hard to do living independently, assisted living facilities can provide seniors with the care and support they need as they continue to age. At Landmark Senior Living, our senior care staff and facilities care for our residents deeply and give them the attention and social activities they require to stay healthy and happy late in life.