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6 Complications of Having Poor Circulation in Your Legs

6 Complications of Having Poor Circulation in Your Legs

Funny things are happening in your lower legs — maybe they’re puffy around the ankles after you’ve been sitting for a long time. Or perhaps a couple of varicose veins have risen up and taken up residence on the surface of your skin. 

While neither development is necessarily cause for immediate concern, they do point toward a circulation issue in your lower limbs — and that’s a warning sign you might not want to ignore.

As vascular experts, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team here at Upper East Cardiology are all too familiar with the potential significance of poor circulation in your legs, which can lead to a number of complications that range from varicose veins to more serious heart disease.

Here, we review 6 of these complications and what might be driving the poor circulation in your lower limbs.

1. Varicose veins

An early harbinger of poor leg circulation is varicose veins — superficial veins that are engorged with blood. The pressure of this extra blood then pushes the vein to the surface. The reason the vein becomes engorged is because your blood isn’t flowing upward through the veins well, so it spills backward instead.

2. Leg swelling 

When your blood isn’t flowing well in your lower limbs, leg swelling is common. Also called edema, this swelling is caused by fluid buildup in your tissues.

3. Nerve damage

As the circulatory issue progresses, peripheral nerves in your lower limbs can become damaged due to the lack of blood supply. Medically known as peripheral neuropathy, this condition is common among people with diabetes and peripheral artery disease.

4. Leg ulcers

When nerves in your legs are damaged and you have poor circulation, you’re at risk for developing leg ulcers. Not only do these ulcers represent an immediate concern, they are slow to heal due to the lack of circulation, which makes you more vulnerable to infection, gangrene, and amputation.

5. Blood clots

People with bad circulation are more at risk for developing blood clots. Going in the other direction, people who develop deep vein thrombosis in their legs are more susceptible to a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which we discuss in greater detail further on.

6. Heart disease 

People who have poor circulation, in their legs and throughout their body, are at much higher risk for developing serious heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. Circulation issues can also lead to cerebrovascular disease, including stroke.

What is behind less-than-ideal leg circulation?

There are several culprits that may lead to poor circulation in your legs, including:

Chronic venous insufficiency

CVI is a condition in which the one-way valves in the veins in your legs weaken, which allows blood to flow backward instead of up toward your heart. CVI is common, as it’s diagnosed in 150,000 new patients each year in the US.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease affects 1 in 20 Americans over the age of 50 and occurs when the arteries that serve the legs are clogged with plaques, compromising the blood flow into your lower extremities.

Aside from these two conditions, diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease are also common contributors to poor circulation in the legs.

From our standpoint, we feel it’s important that you come see us if you suspect the circulation in your legs isn’t great. With early intervention, we can manage the issue and help you avoid some of those complications we outlined above.

For expert diagnosis and care of your leg circulation, please click to contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to set up an appointment. You can also call us at (212) 752-3464.

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