By: David Martin, RN, CRNFA
Happy 2015! So many of us start each new year with a new commitment to fitness and health. This year, I invite you treat a foundational part of your fitness program – your legs and their venous health – with newfound respect and understanding.
Runners, weight lifters, soccer players, CrossFit fanatics, tennis players and lovers of all things barre share a common denominator in their fitness success: their legs. But more and more, we see otherwise fit and healthy young people at our vein health clinics. This may be because delicate one-way valves in the veins – which have the difficult job of carrying de-oxygenated blood against gravity to the heart and lungs for re-oxygenation – have been damaged during sports activities. Statistics also show that even in young people, 25 percent of men and 33 percent of women have some degree of venous insufficiency. As we age, the percentage increases to about 50 percent for men and women older than 50.
Hits from contact sports such as football and soccer, strain from weight lifting, and the pounding and jarring of running all take a toll on your entire body, valves included. As you tackle your New Year’s resolution to maintain a sustainable fitness program, consider a free ultrasound screening to check your venous health. If your parents and grandparents had varicose or spider veins or if you experience any pain, heaviness or swelling in your legs, you should get scanned. Venous insufficiency is a hereditary disease, and these symptoms can occur even if you don’t have visible signs of varicose or spider veins.
These symptoms are also common reasons why many people discontinue exercise at some point. So commit to your New Year’s resolution and explore your options for minimally invasive, office-based treatments for venous reflux. Today’s diagnostic and treatment procedures are easier, safer and faster than in the past, are usually covered by insurance and can keep you and your new fitness program on the right track.