Vascular fun and folly

Barring an accident or some trauma, pain management often requires some depth of investigation. Well…opioids and cortisone injections might help get rid of the pain, but what if there might be something lurking in your blood flow? Let’s get into the holistic concepts of vascular system and how USA doctors seem to avoid the topic in helping you.

Do your legs hurt when you walk? Do your muscles feel cramped? Do they tingle? Check with your doctor. It could be several things and you may get several opinions. One of the least likely diagnoses might be peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Routine blood pressure exams measure health issues pertaining to your heart and brain health. Has anyone measured the blood pressure at your ankle? Inadequate blood flow to arms, legs, and many other things below the waist might be related to peripheral vascular conditions. How would you know?

It’s how the blood flows to bring life and joy. Yet, vascular disease may also bring woe and tension. Let’s talk about vascular fun and folly.

The vascular system is the body’s network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart. Cardiologists attempt to monitor vascular integrity leading to and from the heart. Deeper exams also view the carotid arteries leading to the brain.

Very few physicians are concerned with the vessels in your other body areas. Chances are that if stiffness and plaque interfere in heart arteries, it may also exist in peripheral blood vessels.

Increase in age usually is associated with vascular diseases but there are other possibilities:

Family history of vascular or heart diseases
Pregnancy
Illness or injury
Long periods of sitting or standing still
Any condition that affects the heart and blood vessels, such as diabetes or high cholesterol
Smoking
Obesity

According to many medical and health organizations, losing weight, eating healthy foods, being active and not smoking can help prevent vascular disease. All of these should not be sporadic but integrated into your lifestyle.

Managing stress well may also help reduce the incidence of vascular diseases. General anxiety is a common part of a long-term stress behavior. It is characterized by long-lasting anxiety that is not focused on any one object or situation. Those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder experience non-specific persistent fear and worry, and become overly concerned with everyday matters, and indirect associations.

According to Harvard Health, anxiety may be one variable in developing vascular disease and heart problems.

Beyond general conceptions about anxiety, your body chemicals called hormones, may increase anxiety. Imbalances in the body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and the precursor hormone DHEA — can cause a variety of symptoms that seem to be mentally health-related, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone may contribute to anxiety. Studies on rats appear to confirm this belief. Thyroid Hormone An overactive thyroid can also cause a significant problem with anxiety, and is very likely to cause panic attacks.

The positive correlation of vascular disease among the aging population may be related to many hormonal changes. Hormone changes may be associated with weight gain, reduced energy, and other conditions despite having followed a healthy lifestyle. These changes are also associated with anxiety.

One symptom that hints of vascular disease is blood pressure. Blood pressure measurements may deviate based on instrumentation. Digital machines have differing programs. That means 110/60 on one unit might be 130/80 on another unit. Anxiety (every now and then) doesn’t cause long-term high blood pressure (hypertension). Frequent episodes of anxiety have been known to cause dramatic, temporary spikes in your blood pressure. The belief is that frequent temporary spikes in blood pressure can have negative consequences that are similar to those of high blood pressure.

Another factor of blood pressure and vascular disease might be sub-conscious brainwaves of consciousness. Your brain has differing wave patterns when you are alert and relaxed. People with hypertension are prescribed beta blockers. These work to help reduce stress and anxiety. Beta brainwaves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when attention is directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta is a ‘fast’ activity, present when we are alert, attentive, engaged in problem solving, judgment, decision making, or focused mental activity. While remaining in beta too long may result in adverse reactions among people with hypertension, little research fails to reach any firm conclusions on associations with vascular diseases.

Vascular diseases begin as inflammation on vascular walls. They turn into lesions over time. Consider getting a paper-cut on your finger. That’s a lesion on your skin. Among the miles of veins and arteries in your body, these lesions form. The body works to protect itself. Vascular plaque forms not only near your heart or brain but other parts too.

Yet the far-reaching roads pf the vascular system extend over every sector and place of your body. Apart from cardiovascular and neurovascular pathways, there are several known peripheral vascular diseases:

Atherosclerosis and Peripheral Artery Disease.
Aneurysm.
Raynaud’s Phenomenon (Raynaud’s Disease or Raynaud’s Syndrome)
Buerger’s Disease.
Peripheral Venous Disease and Varicose Veins.
Blood Clots in Veins (VTE)
Blood Clotting Disorders.
Lymphedema.

Perhaps one of the more disabling of peripheral diseases is Erectile Dysfunction. Some say it is age related. It may be from a vascular disease. When there are peripheral vascular conditions, the blood flow does not just struggle to get to the legs and feet, but also to the penis. This then causes the ever-terrifying condition known as “erectile dysfunction”! Usually, this poor circulation is a result of other health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Some studies from 2011 found that vascular disease may have had less to do with erectile dysfunction.

Hormonal changes after menopause and possible vascular disease may be behind sexual mishappenings. While peripheral atherosclerosis from high cholesterol and high fats may lead to sexual disabilities, diabetes (hormonal and vascular) might be more significant contributors. In women, diabetes can lead to hardening of the blood vessels of the vaginal wall. Decreased blood flow can affect vaginal lubrication, causing the vagina to be too dry for comfortable intercourse. This condition also seems to put women at greater risk for recurring yeast infections. In men, diabetes can lead to a hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the erectile tissue of the penis. This can cause problems in getting an erection, and the penis may be less firm while erect. Basically, obesity linkage with diabetes may result in vascular folly.

Apart from sexual issues, peripheral pain in limbs may be more associated with vascular conditions than neuromuscular or skeletal issues.

Factors that increase your risk of developing peripheral artery disease include:
Smoking.
Diabetes.
Obesity (a body mass index over 30)
High blood pressure.
High cholesterol.
Increasing age, especially after reaching 50 years of age.
A family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke.

Many of these conditions demonstrate possible circulatory problems in the peripheral vascular system. Diabetics are known to develop gangrene in toes and fingers, in extreme cases, with surgeries required for removal. Certain dietary choices and smoking may deprive areas of blood – over time. Constriction of the blood vessels is the body’s way to raise the blood pressure. By narrowing the passage in the blood vessels, blood flows more slowly to the organs and the extremities. This goes way beyond the scope of heart and brain vascular issues. Peripheral vasoconstriction is associated with chronic stress.

Peripheral vasoconstriction is the narrowing of the blood vessels resulting from contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels, in particular the large arteries and small arterioles. The process is the opposite of vasodilation, the widening of blood vessels. Vasoconstriction of the arterioles increases resistance and decreases blood flow. This may cause hypertension readings in early stages.

Peripheral vascular testing is generally overlooked by most traditional physicians. The diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) should always be confirmed using objective vascular testing. Sometimes heart and brain vascular health seem clean and normal. Other parts of your vascular system may not be as healthy. When it comes to where the blood flows and how, a thorough vascular health screening is a more holistic approach for the bigger picture.

The most common symptom of peripheral vascular disease in the legs is pain in one or both calves, thighs, or hips. Like many other health-related issues, proper diets and movement exercises are beneficial for treatment and lifestyle. Your health care professional will most likely recommend physical therapy or physiatry as part of a treatment plan. When no other treatment is offered by a general physician, you may want to consult with a vascular specialist.

In the flowing tributaries so vital to our lives, vascular health influences us through arteries, veins, and capillaries. PAD usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it also can affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach. The center hub is your heart beating constantly. And by genetics or personal choice, determinants of what is in your blood contribute to your health and how you feel. Managing dietary and activity lifestyles, monitoring hormones, and insisting that your doctor examines all your vascular system may help you enjoy life better. Seek vascular fun over folly.

Artery Stents and Side Effects

Diet fads come and go. Indiscretions and choices of lifestyles may come to haunt you through normal aging, genetics, and effects from certain illnesses. Over time your arteries may become narrowed and blocked because of build-up of a fatty material called plaque, which is made up of cholesterol and other substances. Like the crusty plaque that forms around teeth, arterial and vascular plaque silently obstructs the passage of blood and nutrients throughout your body. Artery stents are light little inserts that are surgically implanted to help open obstructed arteries. Artery stents are minimally invasive life savers that may prevent heart attacks and strokes. It’s good to check your vital statistics often. Irregularities may indicate arterial blockages.

Artery and vascular obstructions are known as atherosclerosis and the American Heart Association compiles statistics annually. In 2009, there were 644,240 hospital stays that included the implantation of a cardiac artery stent.
The rate of any cardiac stent procedure rose steadily from 1999 to 2006 by 61 percent and
then declined sharply between 2006 and 2009 by 27 percent. Sclerosis, a stiffening of a structure, has been associated with many diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis and ALS (which interfere with nervous system functions). Atherosclerosis is silent. Arteries have no pain sensors to alert of plaque build-up. It is the silent killer that leads to heart attacks and brain strokes.

The use of artery stents have greatly help reduce the incidence of heart disease and brain infarctions but implantation of artery stents isn’t a miraculous cure-all. Diet and exercise routines are fundamental. They are more minimally invasive approaches of more complex surgeries that are alerts that death was nearer than you thought.

Stents reduce the incidence of heart attacks and strokes but not necessarily lives, according to Duke University research. The artery stent was first introduced in 1994 and various technological innovations have improved their overall effectiveness. Prior to stents, the severity of atherosclerosis usually required more invasive procedures, such as arterial or coronary bypasses. President Clinton and TV host David Letterman are popular recipients of those surgeries. You will note that these are very conscious of lifestyle changes to maintain weight for health.

Surgically implanting artery stents leaves no superficial scars. A catheter enters your groin area or your wrist to physically explore your arteries. Where significant blockage is visible, a stent is implanted via the catheter. For most of the procedure, you are under mild sedation – relaxed but conscious. A stent is like a spring of mesh that is inserted to support the artery wall. With time, the mesh and the artery wall unify. Heart artery stents wer approved by the FDA in 1994. Newer stents add a drug to the metallic material. This helps reduce Restenosis, a condition where the stent may collapse. Using these drug induced stents and certain prescribed oral medications help stabilize stent implantation.

Commonly, artery stents are used in surgical procedures called percutaneous trans-luminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), also known as balloon angioplasty. These procedures are intended to reduce the risk of heart attacks or other complications stemming from coronary heart disease that involves the blockage of the arteries.

Virtually non-invasive radiological detection of atherosclerosis has emerged in the 21st century and CAT or MRI scans and Ultrasound may be used as part of routine searches for atherosclerosis in specific arteries. This may account for the rise of artery stent intervention from 1999 to 2006. Angioplasty will be necessary if plaque accumulation is noted and is a way that artery stents are implanted. If no stent is implanted, it is an ambulatory procedure with no hospital stay. An implant requires at least 24-hour stay.

An artery stent was implanted. For around 2 years following an implant procedure, you will be prescribed a blood thinner drug (i.e Plavix, Warfarin, Xarelto) and low dose aspirin as an anti-coagulant. You are advised to reduce exercise and increase proper diet for a few weeks after surgery.

Common side effects of blood thinners are:

◾Heavy menstrual flows
◾Bloody or discolored urine or feces.
◾Somewhat frequent nosebleeds.
◾Bleeding gums.
◾Prolonged bleeding from a cut and possible bruising.

Less reported side effects may include:

•Difficulty with breathing or swallowing
•Dizziness
•Headache
•Leg weakness and Numbness
•Paralysis (partial area restricted)

While not all blood thinners are affected by the same substances, a number of foods, herbs, and medications can interact with blood-thinning medications. This can render the drug more or less effective than your dosage would suggest.

Many physicians, in an effort to reduce cholesterol levels as a possible cause of atherosclerosis, also add statins (Lipitor) may lead to increased toxicity such as myopathy (inflammation of the muscles). Clinical trials commonly define statin toxicity as myalgia or muscle weakness with creatine kinase (CK) levels greater than 10 times the normal upper limit. The most frequrntly reported statin side effects are:

Headache
Nausea
Vomiting
Constipation
Diarrhea
Rashes
Weakness and muscle pain

People who smoke have an additional concern over Nicotine. The nicotine in cigarettes directly affects the inflammatory response, causing the release of more cytokines.Cytokines serve as molecular messengers between cells and regulate various inflammatory responses. There are many types of cytokines in the bloodstream and some are researched as possible sources of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other pain or numbing diseases.

There is often a great emphasis in controlling plaque and vulnerable plaque in the arteries leading to the heart and brain. Less emphasis is focused on other narrower blood vessels that extend to the periphery of the body, such as hands and feet. The possible side effects of blood thinners, statins, and nicotine, plus vulnerable plaque, may be restricting blood flow and cytokines to various point s in legs and arms.

The effects of drugs, diet, lifestyle, and undetected vascular disintegrity may be associated with a less common side effect of artery stents. They are peripheral neuropathies, a numbness or tingling of hands and feet.

I had numbness in the feet. I have since found several cases that have complained about some form of peripheral neuropathy that require assisted walking devices. Nearly all reported having at least one implanted stent. A few had as many as four stents. Medications can manage neuropathy symptoms but none claim to cure it. I have found long-term acupuncture to be effective. Acupuncturists offer differing techniques. I found New York’s East Wind Healing Arts to be the best.

Stents are used to help support decayed arteries and collapsing organs. They are used after coronary episodes and to prevent first episodes. As a wise approach in exploring annual routine health care, a comprehensive center of cardiologists, who also specialize as internists, may be sensitive enough to help ward off any problems.

Diet and exercise help. Unfortunately, people of all shapes and sizes may be susceptible to atherosclerosis by virtue of genetics. Following responsible diets and physical activities are good avenues to support heat health within the generally healthy population.

It is likely that where atherosclerosis is present in arteries, there may be peripheral vascular disease found in the blood vessels feeding and protecting other areas of your body.

Your body likes balance and works hard towards maintaining a stable balance. It has complex mechanisms that control internal fight/flight stress at microcellular levels. Sometimes it’s imperceptible while other times pain and inflammation may occur. While implanting artery stents may breed a host of annoying side effects, maintain an active relationship with your physicians and work hard toward living happily ever after.

When necessary, artery stents are life savers but following more responsible lifestyles may add years of living well. As to dealing with side effects? Sometimes you have to weigh side effects or no life at all. Doctors and patients should be attentive and aware of those possible side effects and cooperate with healthcare and alternatives as successful treatments.