Temperatures in the 90s and 100s are being recorded from coast to coast in the United States this summer, and the effects of these heat waves on our collective health can be considerable. While there are obvious threats, such as dehydration and heat stroke, there are lesser known side effects, including exacerbating existing varicose veins.
In this month’s blog post, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the vascular team here at Upper East Side Cardiology’s Vein Institute, want to focus on the effects that warmer temperatures can have on varicose veins.
Varicose veins at a glance
In order to better understand how heat can have an effect on your varicose veins, it’s important to fully comprehend what’s behind these bulging blood vessels.
The veins in your legs have, arguably, a harder task than most blood vessels as they’re responsible for delivering blood back to your heart, fighting distance and gravity along the way. To help keep your blood flowing in the right direction, the veins in your legs are equipped with tiny, one-way valves that shut off as blood flows through, preventing the blood from spilling backward.
When you develop varicose veins, it’s due to a weakening in these valves, which allows blood to pool in your veins. When this occurs, the veins engorges and can push toward the surface, thus giving you varicose veins. This issue is incredibly common and affects up to 35% of people in the United States.
Blood vessels and temperatures
When you injure yourself, you’re often instructed to apply an ice pack. The reason for this is that cold temperature causes vasoconstriction (your blood vessels contract), which restricts blood flow to the injured area and reduces swelling.
On the opposite end of this temperature spectrum, when you apply heat to your blood vessels, they relax and open up more.
When you have varicose veins and you’re facing a heat wave, the veins in your legs become looser, which means your valves have to work even harder to keep your blood flowing in the right direction.
As well, if you have existing varicose veins, these veins are closer to the surface of your skin and more exposed to the heat. When these veins dilate due to higher temperatures, they can become uncomfortable.
Tackling varicose veins
If you’re experiencing discomfort this summer due to varicose veins that are responding to the heat, the good news is that we offer several treatments to eliminate these problematic veins.
Depending on the size and number of veins, we can turn to:
- ClosureFast™ — radiofrequency ablation
- VenaSeal™ Closure System
- Varithena®, which is a type of sclerotherapy
Each of these treatments is highly effective at eliminating varicose veins, making you more comfortable this summer.
To schedule your varicose vein treatment, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side.