More than 10% of Americans have diabetes, a chronic condition that can dramatically impair your circulation. High blood sugar levels make blood vessels stiff and narrow, interfering with the normal flow of blood. Over time, these vascular changes can lead to high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, leg ulcers, and even lower limb amputation.
Led by Saleem Saiyad, MD, FACC, the team at Premier Vein & Vascular in Tampa, Florida, offers state-of-the-art treatments for poor circulation, along with preventive strategies to help patients improve their blood flow. If you have type 2 diabetes, here are seven tips that could help you.
1. Quit smoking
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your cardiovascular health. Heart problems aside, smoking narrows and stiffens your arteries, increasing the risk of peripheral artery disease, poor circulation, and amputations. The sooner you quit, the faster your body can recover from the effects of smoking.
2. Get up, get moving
You don’t have to join a gym or run a marathon to enjoy the cardiovascular benefits of exercise. Small, frequent bursts of activity can be really helpful in managing your blood glucose levels. Try taking five-minute breaks every half hour during work or walking in place during commercial breaks while you chill in the evening. Of course, walking, biking, and swimming are great too.
3. Focus on your calves
For most people with diabetes, circulation problems are a lot more common in the feet, ankles, and lower limbs — areas located farthest from your heart. Your calf muscles play an important role in keeping blood flowing from your feet and ankles back to your heart.
Adding some leg raises or other simple calf exercises to your daily routine can go a long way toward keeping those muscles strong and active.
4. Revamp your diet
Cutting back on sugar is part of managing diabetes, but you should also aim to cut out unhealthy fats that can raise cholesterol and add to plaque deposits in your arteries. Add in fresh vegetables and foods high in fiber, and incorporate small amounts of healthy omega-3 fats that can help lower “bad” cholesterol naturally.
5. Beat stress
Stress increases your blood pressure and your glucose levels, a combination that can take a toll on your vascular system. Yoga and meditation are great ways to de-stress, but simple breathing exercises and visualization techniques can work too. Try to incorporate a little “me time” into your daily routine, doing something you find enjoyable and relaxing.
6. Slip on some socks
Compression socks apply consistent, gentle pressure to your calves, ankles, and feet, giving your blood vessels a little assistance in keeping your blood flowing back to your heart. Like your diabetes medications, compression socks come with a prescription, so avoid the over-the-counter options and ask your doctor to prescribe the right socks for your needs.
7. Manage your blood sugar
If you have diabetes, you know you have to keep an eye on your blood glucose levels. But managing glucose isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of task. It’s something you have to actively manage. That means using medicine as directed, watching what you eat, and taking other steps recommended by your diabetes doctor.
Know the signs of poor circulation
Poor circulation isn’t always easy to spot, but knowing what symptoms to look for means you can get the treatment you need as early as possible, before serious complications happen. Some of the most common signs include:
- Numbness or tingling in your feet or hands
- Sores that take a long time to heal
- Cold feet or hands
- Changes in the color or texture of your skin
- Very dry or cracked skin
- Dizzy spells
- Hair loss on your legs
- Swollen feet or ankles
If you have type 2 diabetes, seeking medical care at the first sign of a circulation problem is especially important for your future health. To learn how our team treats poor circulation, book an appointment with Premier Vein & Vascular online or over the phone today.