How long can you live with heart disease?
Approximately 84 million Americans are living with heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. More than 600,000 people die of heart disease each year, making it the number one cause of death in the United States. However, heart disease is not always a death sentence. Learn how long you can live with heart disease and ways to keep yourself healthy.
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, occurs when the blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to your heart become blocked or narrowed. Conditions that cause problems with your heart valves or heart rhythm may also be considered forms of heart disease. Heart disease makes you more prone to suffering a heart attack, stroke, or chest pain. In fact, many people do not find out they have heart disease until they experience one of these events.
How Long Can You Live with Heart Disease?
The answer to the question, “How long can you live with heart disease?” is that there is no good answer. Some people with heart disease live for several decades before dying of unrelated causes. Others succumb to a cardiac event within months or years.
The factors that determine your longevity include your genetics, family history, chronic health problems, weight, and lifestyle choices. Some of these factors are outside of your control (like your genes). Others, however, can be changed. Learn what you can do to live longer with heart disease.
Ways to Live Longer with Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disease co-occurs with a variety of other medical conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Investing your time and energy in the following lifestyle changes can help you practice good heart care:
- Eat a healthy diet. The best diet for heart health includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid eating excessive amounts of red meat. Instead, swap fish or beans as sources of protein.
- Decrease your sodium intake. Sodium is found in a variety of processed foods. Lower your sodium consumption to promote healthier blood pressure and heart health.
- Stop smoking. Smoking significantly increases your risk of heart disease. It’s never too late to quit. Talk to your doctor about strategies to help you cut back and quit entirely.
- Aim for a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight places less stress on your cardiovascular system. Ask for a referral to a nutritionist to learn strategies for healthy weight loss.
- Exercise. Exercising is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day, most days of the week. You can break exercise into smaller 10-minute chunks if it’s easier to fit into your schedule.
Are Varicose Veins Dangerous When Pregnant?
Pregnancy comes with all kinds of unexpected surprises -- your feet can change size, you’re craving strange foods, and your skin can even change pigmentation. Varicose veins during pregnancy can also come as a surprise. Learn about varicose veins during pregnancy and pregnancy-friendly vein care options.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Your veins bring deoxygenated blood from your body back to your heart to get more oxygen. The blood often travels long distances, like from your feet back up to your chest. When your vein walls become stressed, they can’t quite push the blood back as efficiently as they used to.
This causes blood to pool, leading to bulging and purple- or blue-colored veins. These varicose veins most commonly form in the legs and groin.
Why Do Women Get Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women are at higher risk for varicose veins. During pregnancy, your uterus gradually grows larger to accommodate the growing baby. As your womb grows, it places pressure on a vein called your inferior vena cava. This is the major vein that carries blood from your lower body back to your heart. As pressure is placed on the vein, it may begin to bulge and develop varicosity. Changes in your body’s hormones also make varicose veins more likely. Specifically, the hormone progestin makes veins wider and more susceptible to varicosities.
About 10 to 20% of women may develop varicose veins during pregnancy. Certain factors make varicose veins more common. For example, if your mother or grandmother developed varicose veins, you are at higher risk. Poor cardiovascular health may also increase your risk.
Varicose Vein Treatment Options During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women wonder about vein treatment options for varicose veins. The best treatment is to prevent varicose veins from developing in the first place. Some factors, like genetics and your uterus growing, are outside of your control. However, taking the following steps may prevent varicose veins during pregnancy:
- Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing, as this causes blood to pool in your legs.
- Stay physically active, even though the third trimester. Walking, swimming, and body weight exercises can help. Talk to your doctor about safe options for you.
- Don’t wear high-heeled shoes.
- Sleep on your left side. Your inferior vena cava runs down the right side of your body, so sleeping on the left reduces pressure on this important vein.
- Lower your sodium intake to reduce swelling.
- Drink lots of water.
- Wear maternity support hosiery, which keeps blood flowing in your legs.
The good news is that most women's varicose veins go away within three months after delivery. For this reason, surgical vein treatment during pregnancy is not usually recommended. If veins persist, however, you may want to consider vein treatment. Make an appointment in the early postpartum period to learn about the best vein care treatment options for you.
Can Radiofrequency Ablation for Vein Treatment be Repeated?
If you have had radiofrequency ablation but your varicose vein has returned, you may wonder if you can undergo this vein treatment again.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive vein treatment. The procedure uses radio waves that create heat to kill, or “ablate,” tissue safely and effectively. The RFA procedure typically takes less than an hour, can be done in an outpatient clinic, and most people do not find radiofrequency ablation to be uncomfortable.
To perform RFA, a vein doctor inserts a small, flexible catheter into the diseased vein then delivers consistent and uniform heat to the walls of the treated vein. The heat contracts the collagen in the walls of the vein, which causes the vein to collapse and close. The treated vein breaks apart and nearby tissue absorbs the remnants of the vein.
Patients can get up and walk around immediately after the procedure. In fact, walking helps speed healing. Patients should avoid strenuous activity for a couple of weeks – since each patient is different, the attending vein doctor recommend a different recovery plan for every patient.
Why Someone Might Need a Repeated Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure
Varicose veins may appear to return after professional vein care for two reasons. First, vein treatment with RFA and other approaches causes the diseased vein to close, and your body routes blood through nearby veins; these nearby veins can also turn into varicose veins and require treatment. Secondly, radiofrequency ablation successfully reduces the appearance in about 90-95 percent of patients, so about 5-10 percent of patients who undergo RFA need a second procedure.
Women who get varicose veins during pregnancy may need repeat treatments after each pregnancy. Gaining weight, sitting or standing for long periods, or having a genetic predisposition can increase a person’s risk for developing varicose veins several times. In these cases, patients need another treatment. Fortunately, Dr. Stevens can repeat radiofrequency ablation if the varicose vein appears to return.
For more information about radiofrequency ablation and repeating RFA, make an appointment with Premier Heart and Vein Care by calling 1-805-979-4777.
How can I take care of my heart naturally?
How can I take care of my heart naturally?
Heart disease is, unfortunately common. But just because you have heart disease - or risk factors for heart disease - that doesn’t mean your life will be filled with medicines and surgeries. In fact, there are plenty of natural heart care options you can incorporate into your daily routine to improve not only your cardiovascular health but your overall health as well.
Natural Heart Care
Maintaining good heart health naturally begins with these simple lifestyle changes:
- Eat a healthy diet. Fill up on vegetables and fruits, cut back on processed foods, and reduce your intake of unhealthy fats, refined sugar, and sodium (salt). Check food labels, and keep an eye on cholesterol, which is a primary cause of atherosclerosis (“hardening” of the arteries) and heart disease. Include plenty of healthy fats - fish and nuts are great sources - and lots of whole grains.
- Lose those extra pounds. Being overweight or obese can significantly increase your risk for developing heart disease, and often, people who are overweight will have other heart disease risk factors, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Obesity can also increase your risks for other diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, and even depression.
- Be more active. Plenty of studies have demonstrated the important role of exercise in maintaining a healthy heart. Exercise improves your blood flow to your heart gets the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Plus, being more physically active makes it easier to shed excess weight, which can also increase your risk of developing heart disease. And finally, regular exercise can even help you reduce stress, which has been implicated in a whole host of diseases, including heart disease. You don’t have to be a pro athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like walking), five days a week to improve overall cardiovascular health.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is bad for your heart, bad for your veins - bad for you. Quitting isn’t easy, but there are products and support groups - including ones that “meet” online - to give you the help and motivation you need to be successful. Make quitting a priority.
- Have your heart health evaluated. It’s important to have an annual physical, and it’s also important to see Dr. Stevens for a routine screening, especially if you have a personal or family history of heart disease, or if you have other risk factors, like smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or older age. Dr. Stevens can perform tests that can provide a clear picture of your heart health, and your doctor can also provide you with more tips to help you lead a heart-healthy life.
Learn more about natural heart care.
At Premier Heart and Vein Care, our cardiology team provides state-of-the-art care based on each patient’s individual needs. To learn what you can do to improve your cardiovascular health, call Premier Heart and Vein Care at 1-805-979-4777 and schedule a consultation today.
Which is the Best Treatment for Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins range from very small (spider veins) to large, tortuous veins that cause burning, swelling and leg pain. Although most common in the legs, they can occur anywhere in the body. Most vein treatment in today's world is done on an outpatient basis, but treatment varies according to a number of different factors. Here's what you need to know about vein care and vein treatment, courtesy of Dr. Ken Stevens at Premier Heart and Vein Care.
Varicose Vein Basics
A varicose vein occurs when the tiny tissue flaps called valves to stop doing their jobs. As a result, blood can flow backward and pool in the vein. As the vein becomes distended, it starts to twist and bulge from the increased pressure. You can get a varicose vein anywhere in the body, including inside in places like the esophagus, where they are called esophageal varices. The distended veins are unsightly and can make your legs burn, itch, swell or hurt. In severe cases, you can actually develop leg ulcers from the damaged veins. Very small varicose veins, called spider veins, may occur in places like the face, chest, legs or ankles. Many varicose veins can be diagnosed with a physical examination, but an ultrasound may also be used for confirmation.
Varicose Vein Treatment – Conservative
Self-care and compression stockings are the most common conservative recommendations for varicose veins. Varicose veins often accompany obesity, so losing weight may help. The vein won't go away, but it may get smaller and you'll have fewer symptoms. It may also prevent you from developing more varicose veins. Other strategies – regular exercise to improve circulation, not wearing tight clothes and not spending long hours on your feet – may also be helpful. Specially fitted compression stockings are another self-care strategy.
Varicose Vein Treatment – Interventions
For more severe problems or if conservative strategies don't help, there are office-based procedures available. Some treatments are outpatient surgeries. Among the possibilities are:
Sclerotherapy – an irritant solution is injected into the vein, which collapses and scars closed. Used for spider veins.
Foam sclerotherapy – similar to the above but foam is injected into larger varicose veins.
Laser surgery – lasers can make the vein swell, collapse and scar closed.
Radiofrequency treatment – a special catheter is inserted into the vein, the radiofrequency energy irritates the vein and it scars closed.
Litigation and vein stripping – a minor surgical procedure; the vein is tied off high in the leg and pulled out from the bottom.
Ambulatory phlebectomy – similar to a vein stripping, but the vein is removed in smaller sections.
Endoscopic vein surgery – surgery to remove the vein with a special instrument inserted into the vein.
The best treatment for a varicose vein depends on many things – your age, your physical condition, your symptoms, and the size and location of the vein. Dr. Stevens can asses your situation and make a recommendation that works best for you. Please contact our office for more information or to schedule an appointment.
How long does pain last after vein ablation?
There was a time not too long ago when having your ugly, painful varicose veins treated meant undergoing a surgical procedure, with prolonged downtime and significant discomfort afterward. Thankfully, that’s all changed. Today’s vein treatment procedures use advanced techniques to significantly reduce pain and downtime, and minimally-invasive options offer surprisingly fast recovery time and very few uncomfortable after effects.
Radiofrequency ablation or RFA is one of those minimally-invasive vein treatment options that offer very good results coupled with a fast recovery. During RFA, tiny incisions are made in the skin over the affected vein and a thin fiber is inserted into the vein. The fiber emits controlled bursts of radiofrequency energy, which irritates and damages the vessel lining, causing the vein to close off to the flow of blood.
RFA Recovery: What to Expect
RFA can be performed right in the office as an outpatient procedure, and the incisions are so tiny, they can be closed with bandages and adhesives - no sutures required. Most patients resume many of their normal activities within a day or two.
After your surgery, you’ll need to wear compression hose (or a compression bandage, if the vein isn’t on your leg or foot) for a week or two. Compression helps by preventing fluids from accumulating around the treatment area, speeding healing and keeping swelling and bruising to a minimum. You will have some swelling and bruising, but you can expect these effects to resolve within a few days for the mild swelling to a week or so for bruising.
Many patients are concerned about the level of discomfort they’ll experience after radiofrequency ablation, but there’s good news here, too. Most patients experience only minor discomfort, and only for about a week or two after treatment. There may also be some minor numbness in and around the treatment area, but this too typically lasts for only a few weeks, or until healing in the area is complete.
To help with healing - and also to reduce swelling and discomfort - it’s important to stay active after your surgery. While you’ll need to avoid strenuous physical activity, moderate amounts of regular walking are an idea for ensuring adequate blood flow, which is important for proper healing and to avoid clot formation. Always follow the post-op guidelines provided by the doctor, and never take any medicines - including aspirin and supplements - without speaking with the doctor first.
Put an end to painful, unhealthy varicose veins.
As a leading provider of state-of-the-art vein treatments in and around San Luis Obispo, CA, Premier Heart & Vein Care offers advanced vein care options optimized for each patient's unique and individual needs. If you’re suffering from varicose veins, learn how you can relieve painful symptoms and improve your vascular health. Call Premier Heart & Vein Care at 805-979-4777 and schedule a consultation visit today.
Is radiofrequency ablation considered surgery?
Millions of people suffer from varicose veins, along with symptoms like pain, swelling, and heaviness in the legs and feet. Without proper medical care, those ugly, twisted veins can cause skin changes and stubborn sores, increasing your risk for infection and other serious medical problems. In addition to being physically unattractive, varicose veins can also be a sign of a more serious underlying vein condition, and no matter what, these diseased veins prevent areas of your body from receiving the normal blood flow they need to stay supplied with important nutrients as well as oxygen.
Fortunately, today there are a variety of vein treatment options that can help eliminate varicose veins and restore normal, healthy circulation. One of the most popular options is radiofrequency ablation (or RFA), a state-of-the-art outpatient procedure that offers patients fast results with little to no downtime.
Radiofrequency Ablation: The Procedure
Strictly speaking, you might classify RFA as surgery, but more frequently, it’s referred to as a medical procedure. That’s because unlike many types of surgery that require general anesthesia and large incisions, RFA uses tiny openings in your vein, and it’s most commonly performed under local anesthesia used to numb the area being treated.
Prior to the RFA procedure, your veins are carefully evaluated and “mapped” so Dr. Stevens can plan the best “approach” for removing the damaged vein. Just prior to the procedure, the insertion site is determined, and the area is carefully cleaned, then numbed. Once the area is completely anesthetized, one small incision is made into the skin, and a very thin tube called a catheter is inserted into the vein through an introducer sheath. The catheter serves as a conduit for the RFA energy delivery.
Once the catheter is inserted into the vein, it’s “triggered” to emit tiny, controlled bursts of radiofrequency energy, which in turn heats up the vein lining, damaging it and causing it to collapse or close, preventing the flow of blood through the vein. Once the entire length of the damaged vein is treated, the catheter and introducer sheath are removed, and the incision is closed with a steristrip. No sutures or stitches are needed.
After the procedure, you’ll be observed for a brief period before being discharged. A compression bandage or stocking will be placed over the treatment site to aid in healing, and over time, the sealed-off vein will be absorbed by your body and carried away by your body’s “waste disposal” system. Normal blood flow will be redirected to neighboring healthy veins. During a follow-up visit, your vein will be evaluated to ensure it’s completely sealed.
Learn more about RFA in San Luis Obispo.
Premier Heart & Vein Care is a leading provider of vein care for men and women in and around San Luis Obispo, California. Dr. Ken Stevens and the entire staff provide customized, safe, effective vein treatment to relieve varicose vein symptoms and help patients enjoy optimal health at every age. To learn more about RFA and other vein treatment options or to schedule a vein evaluation, call Premier Heart & Vein Care at 805-979-4777 today.
What is the Best Exercise for Heart Health?
Most cardiology doctors would agree that good heart care includes a nutritious diet and exercise. A heart-healthy diet is high in dietary fiber, low in salt, and replaces unhealthy fats with healthy polyunsaturated fats, found in certain fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Exercise is important to a healthy heart because the heart is a muscle, which means regular exercise helps the heart muscle stay strong.
Exercise also keeps weight under control and helps prevent artery damage from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar, all of which can lead to heart attack.
Anyone hoping to improve his or her overall cardiovascular fitness should perform 150 minutes or more per week of moderate exercise or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, according to the American Heart Association, or combine moderate and vigorous exercise. Many people find it effective and convenient to exercise for a half hour a day, five times per week.
Certain exercises are better for heart health than are other exercises, though.
Best Exercise for Optimal Heart Health
The best exercise for heart health gets the heart pumping and the blood moving. The effects of pumping the heart muscle has the same benefit as pumping any muscle – the exercise makes the muscle stronger and more efficient at doing its job. Exercises that stimulate circulation keep blood flowing. Poor circulation allows to pool and clot; blood clots can travel to the arteries supplying blood to the heart to cause a heart attack.
Aerobic exercise promotes good cardiovascular health by improving circulation, which lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Aerobic workouts also help lower weight and decrease blood sugar levels, which reduces the risk of diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Also known as “cardio” because of its cardiovascular benefits, aerobic exercise is an activity that causes you to breathe heavily. Muscles use oxygen to extract energy from the amino acids, carbohydrates and fatty acids in food.
Examples of aerobic exercise include running, bicycling, swimming, walking, hiking, dancing, cross-country skiing and kickboxing. Taking an aerobics class or working out on cardio machines also get the heart muscle pumping in beneficial ways.
For more information on the best exercise for heart health, consult with Dr. Stevens. Each person is a unique individual, so the best exercise for one person’s heart may not be the best exercise for another.
What not to eat when you have heart problems
If you have heart problems, you may be at risk of a variety of complications, some of which may even be fatal. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing heart-related complications. One of the most important changes you can make involves improvements to your diet.
What Not to Eat
Some of the foods you should avoid when you have heart problems include:
- Foods containing high fructose corn syrup - The liver doesn't metabolize fructose in the same way it metabolizes other sugars. When you consume large amounts of fructose, your body is more likely to produce new fat, which is hard on your heart. In addition, high fructose corn syrup raises your blood sugar, which leads to other problems.
- Foods that are refined or heavily processed - High levels of processing removes many of the components of food that are most nutritious, leaving behind only the harmful parts. In addition, processing usually adds ingredients to food that make it even more unhealthy, such as added sugar and/or sodium.
- Processed meats - Studies have shown that the preservatives and sodium in processed meat can worsen existing heart problems or contribute to the development of new heart problems.
- Foods high in cholesterol - When you eat too much cholesterol, you can develop cholesterol plaques inside your arteries. These plaques raise your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Other Lifestyle Changes
In addition to eating healthy food, you can also make other lifestyle changes to improve your heart health. Exercising on a regular basis and finding ways to reduce your stress levels may lower the risk of heart-related complications. If you have heart problems, you should also take all of your prescribed medications as recommended and make regular appointments with your preventative cardiology specialist for heart care.
If you would like to learn more about managing heart problems, or if you think you may have a heart problem, please contact Premier Heart & Vein Care today to make an appointment.
Do Veins Grow Back After a Radiofrequency Ablation?
Millions of people suffer from varicose veins in the U.S., and every year, many of them find relief from their symptoms through state-of-the-art varicose vein treatments like radiofrequency ablation. Many of these techniques are minimally-invasive, which means they can be done in the office without general anesthesia and without long incisions or large scars. Plus, they can be performed on an outpatient basis, with a fast return to the patient’s normal routines.
Another benefit of today’s varicose vein treatments: They’re extremely effective, and most everyone who has their veins treated can expect a high degree of success and an extremely low risk of recurrence. However, in some cases, there is a very low risk a problematic vein will form in the same area. Understanding the risk of recurrence - and why it can occur - is an important part of getting ready for your treatment.
Radiofrequency Ablation and Varicose Vein Recurrence
Radiofrequency ablation or RFA uses intense, controlled heat energy to irritate or “damage” the lining of a damaged vessel. Once the lining is irritated, it causes the vein to collapse on itself, shutting off the flow of blood through the vein. Instead, blood is rerouted to healthy veins to promote normal circulation in the area. Over time, the scarred vein tissue is usually absorbed into the body.
RFA is an extremely effective vein treatment technique. But as with other vein treatment options, there is a very minor risk of recurrence of varicose veins in the same location. Typically, recurrence occurs for one of three primary reasons:
- The doctor is inexperienced in using RFA. One of the most important things you can do to ensure your procedure is a success is to select a doctor who’s experienced in a variety of vein treatment techniques. Skilled, experienced vein doctors can make sure the technique they use is optimized for your needs so you can enjoy the best possible outcome.
- The patient’s veins and vein health were not properly evaluated. Having a thorough vein health evaluation prior to treatment is vitally important for determining the underlying cause of your varicose veins. An evaluation helps your doctor decide which treatment option is most likely to offer long-term success based on your health profile.
- The patient is genetically predisposed to varicose veins. There’s really nothing you can do about your genes, but whether you’re genetically more likely to develop varicose veins or not, you can - and should - take steps to improve your vascular health after your varicose vein treatment. That means following the doctor’s recommendations during recovery as well as leading a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet high in fiber and low in sodium and unhealthy fats, regular moderate exercise, and drinking lots of fluids. Keeping your weight under control can also help by decreasing pressure on the tiny valves inside your veins.
Eliminate Painful Varicose Veins Once and For All
Varicose veins should never be ignored. Even if they don't cause painful symptoms, they can still be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Take the next step toward better circulatory health. Call Premier Heart and Vein Care at 1-805-979-4777 and schedule your vein health evaluation today.