The body gives warning signals, don't ignore them
Deccan Chronicle.| Sulogna Mehta
Ignoring the signs and early symptoms can be highly risky and can have serious consequences on the health. (Photo By Arrangement)
You may not be aware but the body gives several subtle signs of poor circulation or blood flow to the organs. These signs can be as unique as lack of hair on the legs and shiny skin to something as common coldness of feet and fatigue.
Ignoring the signs and early symptoms can be highly risky and can have serious consequences on the health including amputation and death due to sepsis as well as enhanced risk of heart attacks, carotid artery disease, coronary vascular disease and ischemic brain stroke.
Poor circulation is referred to the condition when the round-the-clock blood flow to the end organs such as the legs, hands, heart and brain is interrupted and the organs do not get adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients every second. Lack of proper nourishment to a particular organ has several health implications such as blockages, atherosclerosis (build-up of non HDL cholesterol plaques), and deposition of increase in bad (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, in the walls of the arteries diminishing the blood flow further to the end organs.
Elaborating on symptoms and risk factors for poor circulation and peripheral vascular disease (PVD), Dr K Jeethender Jain, senior cardiologist from Yashoda Hospital says, "The disease is more common in males than females mainly due to the lifestyle including habit of smoking, which is higher in males. Those who have sedentary lifestyle, lack physical activity, got high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol level, obesity, diabetes etc, they are at higher risk of developing of PVD. Risk factors can be both genetic and acquired and usually the symptoms manifest in the 30s, 40s, 50s and above."
"One of the most common complaints of people with poor circulation is pain on the legs and feet while walking a short distance, say even 300 to 500 metres. It happens because the calf muscles are deprived of more blood and oxygen due to the blockages in the arteries. Therefore, as one starts walking, they feel the pain. Other indications are loss of hair from the legs, change in skin colour with a bluish tinge or discolouration of the feet, shiny skin, digestive problems, feeling of fatigue, coldness of hand and feet, throbbing pain in the arms and legs, joint pain and muscle cramps. People with poor circulation also experience memory loss and cognitive dysfunction," says Dr Jeethender.
The warning signs of poor circulation that has progressed or is in the end-stage includes, swelling and ulcers on the legs that don’t heal easily and develop into gangrene (death of body tissue due to a lack of blood flow or due to an infection) necessitating amputation of the limbs. Sometimes death due to sepsis may also happen.
Diagnosis of poor circulation
In order to prevent serious fallouts and control the risk factors, early diagnosis and modifying the lifestyle is a must. Usually, a vascular surgeon, a cardiologist or an interventional radiologist can diagnose and suggest medicines and lifestyle modification to bring down the risks associated with poor circulation.
"Diagnosis involves certain tests like Vascular Doppler Ultrasound test to know about the circulation and percentage of blockage and the right mode of treatment. Diagnosis also involves CT Angiogram of the lower limbs and graft or angioplasty. Medication for peripheral vascular disease includes anti-platelet drugs, ecosprin, cilostazol and palliative treatment. Surgery involves angioplasty like stenting or a vascular graft," says Dr Jeethender.
"Since patients with poor circulation and PVD are at high risk of developing cardiac issues, doctors advise that they simultaneously undertake screening ECG, ECHO and stress thallium or nuclear stress test (to check about the blood flow to the heart) before going for an angioplasty to detect any blockage to the heart," adds the doctor.
- Don’t ignore the warning signs of poor circulation
- Leg pain even after walking a few hundred metres
- Loss of hair from the legs
- Change in skin colour with a bluish tinge or discolouration of the feet
- Shiny skin
- Coldness of hand and feet
- Throbbing pain in the arms and legs
- Joint pain and muscle cramps
- Digestive problems
- Feeling of fatigue often
- Memory loss and cognitive dysfunction
- Swelling and ulcers on the legs that don’t heal easily (late stage)
- Gangrene necessitating amputation of the limbs (end-stage)