How Leg Swelling Is Tied to Cardiovascular Problems

How Leg Swelling Is Tied to Cardiovascular Problems

Leg swelling is common, especially as you get older, but could your leg swelling be telling you something about the health of your heart and blood vessels? 

At Total Care Family Practice in Henderson, Nevada, family medicine physician Dr. Evan Allen provides a full range of services to keep the entire family healthy. If you have leg swelling, it’s wise to come in for a checkup. 

Leg swelling could signal a problem with your cardiovascular system, but rest assured that if Dr. Allen does find a problem, prompt action can protect your heart and keep complications at bay. 

While you may be aware of the obvious signs of heart trouble, subtle signs such as swelling in specific areas of the body can go unnoticed. Learn more about the link between leg swelling and cardiovascular health.

Chronic venous insufficiency

Edema is the medical term for swelling in the body, and while it can occur anywhere for a variety of reasons, if it appears in your legs, feet, or ankles, it can indicate that your circulatory system is not functioning properly.

Chronic venous insufficiency is one of the most common causes of swelling in the legs and feet. The valves in your veins keep blood flowing toward your heart. But when these valves fail, blood can flow backwards. This results in blood pooling in your legs, which causes them to swell. 

When swelling signals a heart issue

Heart problems can cause fluid to accumulate throughout the body, including the legs.

The following are heart issues linked to leg swelling:

Heart failure is a common problem linked to leg swelling. While the term heart failure sounds as if your heart is no longer working, it actually means that your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should. With heart failure, the heart makes a few different adaptations to try to keep up, such as enlarging and pumping faster. Blood vessels also narrow in attempts to keep your blood pressure up. As the condition progresses, the heart is unable to keep up.

Heart failure can involve the left or right side of the heart, but usually starts on the left side. Along with leg swelling, it’s common to experience fatigue, shortness of breath, and reduced exercise capacity.

Getting treatment for heart failure can slow its progression and improve your quality of life.

Peripheral artery disease

If your leg swelling is accompanied by leg pain and weakness, you may have peripheral artery disease (PAD). Other symptoms include: 

PAD occurs when plaque accumulates in the arteries of your legs or arms. This makes it difficult for your blood to transport oxygen and nutrients to those tissues. PAD is a chronic disease, but it can be improved by exercising, eating less fat, and quitting smoking.

Taking care of your cardiovascular health

Leg swelling that lasts more than a few days requires an office visit. There are things that can cause leg swelling that aren’t caused by heart or vascular trouble. Certain medications, such as calcium channel blockers, can cause leg swelling. Once Dr. Allen determines the cause of your leg swelling, you can get on the path to improving your cardiovascular health and feeling better.

Stop in to see us if you’re concerned about your cardiovascular health. Give us a call or book your appointment online today.

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