Posts Tagged ‘blood vessel’

Do you know if you have high blood pressure?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

taking-bpAccording to a recent Institute of Medicine report, nearly one in three adults has hypertension, high blood pressure (HBP).  That’s a huge number! HBP is one of the nation’s leading causes of death, responsible for roughly one in six deaths among adults annually.  And a whole lot of us don’t know we have HBP because we don’t visit our health care provider regularly.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body). When the pressure in the arteries becomes too high, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.

About 8 percent of women have problems with high blood pressure during pregnancy. There are several types of high blood pressure that affect pregnant women. Some types start before pregnancy, and others develop during pregnancy. All types of high blood pressure can pose risks to the pregnant woman and her baby. Read our fact sheet for more information.

If you are planning on becoming pregnant soon, make sure to get your blood pressure checked and under control now.  BP is something that is checked regularly during prenatal care, so it’s important you keep all your visits when you do become pregnant.  Fortunately, problems usually can be managed with proper prenatal care.

Got spider or varicose veins?

Monday, August 10th, 2009

varicose-veinPregnancy really did a number on my bod.  My son gave me stretch marks, my daughter brought on spider veins in my legs (but they can appear on the face, neck chest and upper arms, too).  Spider veins are small blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin.  They are red, purple or bluish and twist into web-like patterns, hence the name.  They don’t hurt, but I’m not crazy about the way they look.

Blood flows through the body in a complex of veins.  The flow is moving in one direction only because of a series of one-way valves. Contracting muscles help pump the blood through the veins to the heart.  If a valve breaks down, blood can pool in an area causing it to weaken, swell and twist.  If the vessels are smaller you may get a spider vein cluster in your smooth skin.  Larger vessels that twist, raise up and stand out like a cord against the rest of your skin are called varicose veins.  Both men and women can have spider or varicose veins, especially if you’re on your feet all day long, are obese, have had surgery to a leg or have family members with these beauties. Pregnancy with its increased blood supply also is a contributing factor and women are twice as likely to get them as men.  Great, huh?

You may not like the way they look but, actually, they don’t usually present a health problem.  It is possible, however, for them (especially varicose veins) to ache, throb, cause leg cramps, slow circulation that could lead to chronic problems and even skin sores.  Occasionally a painful blood clot can form.  In severe cases, varicose veins can be surgically removed.

Unless you have severe symptoms, most spider veins and varicose veins don’t need to be treated.  The easiest way to deal with any discomfort is to wear support hose, available in knee-high or full pantyhose styles.  Check with your pharmacist for brands he recommends.  If you’re overweight, try dropping some of those pounds.  Walking is a good way to do it and it helps with your circulation.  Watch your salt intake, too.  Lots of salt can make your body retain fluid, putting more pressure where you don’t want it.  If you’re sitting at a desk or table, don’t cross your legs because that can intensify circulatory problems.  When you’re sitting reading or watching TV, or if you’re sitting at a desk job for long stretches, be kind to your legs and put your feet up on a stool.

For those of you who really can’t stand the sight of your spider or varicose veins, there are different procedures to help get rid of them: laser therapy; sclerotherapy; vein surgery; endovenous laser treatment; radiofrequency ablation.  Speak with your doc for more info.

Migraine headaches during pregnancy: Is there an increased risk of stroke?

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

migraine2I don’t have migraine headaches, but my sister does. And they cause her serious pain.

This week we may have learned something new about migraines. Pregnant women who have migraine headaches may be at increased risk of stroke and other problems related to their blood vessels. Researchers just reported this information in a study published in the British Medical Journal.

A migraine is a very painful type of headache. The pain may pulse or throb in one area of the head. During migraines, people are very sensitive to light and sound. They may also become nauseated and vomit.

Often when a woman is pregnant, she stops having migraines. But if they don’t stop, she may be more likely to have a stroke, heart attack or other serious health problem.

More research is needed to confirm or disprove the findings from the new study.

In the meantime, if you are pregnant and having migraines, talk to your health care provider about what this new research may mean for you.