For anyone who suffers from poor circulation it’s important to understand how cold weather may be potentially dangerous. Cooler days increase the risk of serious illness from coughs, lung and heart problems, falls or the flu but they can also have an effect on your veins. Learn about the impact of cold weather on circulation and varicose veins plus tips on how you can stay healthy this winter.
The impact of cold weather on circulation
Scientists have dubbed this the winter cardiovascular disease phenomenon, the observation that cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism occur more frequently in the fall and winter months.
One explanation is that cold weather causes veins and arteries to constrict, putting immense strain on patients whose coronary circulation is already compromised. This extra demand may prevent the heart muscle from receiving adequate oxygen, leading to a host of cardiovascular events and disorders.
Another theory is that the sudden drop in temperature results in the body having to work harder to regulate its own temperature. During this process, all the thermal stress can lead to increased blood viscosity, stickiness, and formation of blood clots.
Impact of cold weather on varicose veins?
Fortunately, cold weather isn’t all bad news if you suffer from venous insufficiency. While warm weather can impair healthy circulation by causing veins to dilate and the blood to pool, cooler weather has the opposite effect.
Although it’s possible to experience slowed circulation in small blood vessels (such as fingers and toes), cooler temperatures can ease the discomfort of varicose veins. Symptoms such as swelling, cramping, and painful legs can become less severe as the temperature drops.
Cold weather means less activity, which can exacerbate venous insufficiency
The paradox of colder weather means that although varicose vein symptoms may improve, the change from an active to sedentary lifestyle during the fall and winter months can be just as problematic.
Patients are less likely to engage in regular outdoor activities such as gardening, walking, or biking, limiting the amount of beneficial exercise they need to maintain good blood flow in their legs.
Tips to encourage healthy blood circulation during colder months
Stay active – while it may seem daunting to keep your exercise regime going when it’s cold outside, it’s important to keep moving. Invest in some seasonal clothing and shoes to help you stay comfortable and warm during outdoor activities.
If you can’t get outside, another option is to regularly walk around the house or office to prevent yourself from sitting or standing for too long. If your building has stairs, use them during lunchtime to get your steps in and facilitate healthy blood circulation.
Avoid fatty and salty foods – it may be tempting to indulge in rich ‘comfort’ foods during the winter months as you’re bundled comfortably on the couch. Doctors normally advise patients to limit the intake of salty foods as these can promote unnecessary fluid retention.
Furthermore, foods rich in saturated fats can impair your endothelial cell function and eventually your overall vascular system. Instead, choose plenty of colorful fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber and nutritional content.
Treat your varicose veins – the best way to avoid the discomfort associated with varicose veins is to have them treated by a vein specialist. Fortunately, there are a number of highly effective non-surgical approaches available that can be performed during a quick visit to our clinic.
Wear compression stockings – To ease symptoms and discourage new varicose veins from forming, particularly during the colder months, compression stockings have been shown to promote circulation and significantly improve venous insufficiency.
Unlike regular socks or stockings, compressional garments use specially designed elastic material to gradually tighten and support the surface veins in the lower legs. This strategically applied pressure helps swollen veins to constrict and propels the flow of blood back to the heart more efficiently.
Compression stockings are now available for purchase at The Vein Institute Shop.
Seek expert advice
The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive program using non-surgical laser treatment techniques. You can learn more in our Definitive Guide to Varicose Vein Treatment.
The benefits of non-surgical varicose vein treatment are:
- Walk-in walk-out treatment
- 98% success rate
- Extremely effective
- Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
- No general anaesthetic
- Medicare rebates apply
- No downtime or time away from work
To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call 1300 981 402. Or, make an inquiry via the Contact Us page.