Over 10% of adults have coronary heart disease in the United States. Heart disease is one of many other diseases that can lead to poor blood flow and circulation.
While heart disease by itself poses a risk for other illnesses, impaired blood flow can make someone feel lethargic and cause pain or tingling in the extremities.
There are many causes of poor blood circulation, but we are going to focus on the five main causes. To find out more, continue reading below.
Most Common Symptoms of Poor Blood Flow
Blood circulation is important in keeping someone’s tissues, nerves, and joints healthy. Most often, our heart pumps blood to our peripheral arteries which distribute it to our organs and extremities.
Since our hands and feet are the furthest regions away from our hearts, they are at the highest risk of suffering from poor circulation. Additionally, we have veins that work at bringing the used blood back up through the heart so it can be re-circulated.
At any point during this process, our veins or arteries can impede our blood circulation and lead to negative health effects. Some of the symptoms of poor blood flow include:
- Swelling in your feet or hands
- Muscle cramping
- Skin discoloration
- Varicose veins
Usually, poor blood flow is diagnosed by a physician. They can perform simple tests or imaging for a more thorough diagnosis. Physicians will also ask people about their symptoms and how often they have them.
1. Do You Have Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects more than 34 million Americans. It is also the number one cause of lower-extremity amputations.
At its core – diabetes is a breakdown in how our body efficiently turns food into energy. When sugars from food are ingested, it gets broken down and released into our blood.
If the blood sugar level increases, our pancreas releases insulin so that it can enter our cells. Diabetes halts this process so that we either don’t release insulin or we can’t use it.
Ultimately, sugar can build up in our system and lead to vision loss, kidney failure, and heart disease. Plaque also builds up in our arterial walls from chronically higher levels of sugar in the bloodstream.
This can not only affect the circulation in our extremities but also lead to nerve damage. Impaired blood flow and neuropathy are two of the main reasons people with diabetes develop sores on their feet that they cannot feel which sometimes leads to amputations or infections.
Properly managing diabetes and having good foot hygiene can work towards improving blood circulation and preventing diabetic complications.
2. What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is one of the leading factors for poor blood flow. Essentially, it is the narrowing of blood vessels in our extremities that happens when plaque builds up on the walls.
Diabetes is one of the diagnoses that can lead to PAD, but there are also others. Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, smoking, and getting older all pose risks for developing PAD.
Once plaque builds up in the walls of our arteries, it usually leads to problems in the lower extremities. These include things such as:
- Skin discolouration
- Tissue damage
Untreated PAD can lead to a stroke or heart attack. It can also result in a complete blockage of blood circulation to your lower extremities which leads to complications like sores, gangrene, and loss of a limb.
Luckily, there are many lifestyle factors we can start making that reduce your risk of PAD and its complications. They are many of the other things mentioned earlier such as eating healthy, exercising and regularly visiting your physician for yearly physicals.
For people with PAD or who are at high risk, then be sure and follow a doctor’s protocol on medication usage. A lot of times, these medications provide life-saving tools for managing atherosclerosis and helping increase blood flow.
3. Varicose Veins and Edema
We’ve all heard about varicose veins and how they can make people feel self-conscious. But it also turns out that varicose veins can lead to swelling and poor blood flow to the legs.
Varicose veins occur when the valve that helps push blood back up to our heart stops working as efficiently. Blood starts going backward instead of going forward which leads to twisted or bulging veins.
It also results in pain, cramping, and swelling.
We can quickly improve our blood circulation by addressing our varicose veins through some simple home remedies including:
- Eating foods high in potassium and fiber
- Implementing flavonoids
- Elevating legs
- Compression garments
Blood flow restriction with varicose veins stems from sluggish valves – that means movement is key. The more we move, the more we can strengthen our muscles and heart blood flow that pushes that swelling out of our legs and strengthens our blood vessels.
4. Raynaud’s Disease
Raynaud’s disease is a phenomenon that results in the narrowing of blood vessels in our hands and feet. Typically, impaired blood circulation is brought on by cold weather or stressful events.
There are two main types of Raynaud’s: primary and secondary. Many autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to secondary Raynaud’s.
Primary Raynaud’s does not have any ties to other illnesses and is usually milder. Some of the main symptoms with Raynaud’s include:
- Cold extremities
- Skin discolouration (e.g., white, blue, or red)
Like varicose vein treatments, there are some home remedies we can start doing now that can improve your symptoms. Stress is a big contributor to Raynaud’s disease, so like the prior suggestions, also look at implementing stress management techniques or mindfulness.
We can also be more mindful of the temperature of our houses and dress warmly when we go outside.
5. Blood Clots
A blood clot is a more serious medical diagnosis that leads to partial or complete blood flow restriction. A blood clot can be the result of PAD, heart failure, obesity, varicose veins, cancer or medication.
People can also be more at risk of blood clots if they sit for prolonged periods of time or have been bedridden. With that said – the best way of preventing blood clots is to keep moving.
There are two main types of blood clots that can restrict blood flow – superficial blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A DVT is a medical emergency.
It can cause complete blockage of blood flow to an extremity and put people at risk of having a pulmonary embolism (when a piece of the clot breaks off and travels into the lungs).
A superficial blood clot may present with redness or light pain. If someone starts noticing these symptoms in the leg, this requires immediate medical attention. To put us all at less risk of getting blood clots then here are some helpful tips:
- Stay hydrated
- Move your legs often
- Wear compression stockings
- Don’t cross your legs
If someone is at risk for blood clots because of varicose veins, PAD, or diabetes, then talk to a doctor about medication.
Studies on Improving Blood Flow
One study looked at automatic vibratory massage and its effect on blood flow. They examined patients who underwent ten minutes of this type of therapy and then their arterial blood pressures were monitored.
They found that systolic and diastolic blood pressures improved. It also showed an approximate 1% average increase in the radius of blood vessels in lower extremities between males and females.
Based on this study, the researchers recommended this form of treatment for helping improve blood circulation and reduce hypertension.
Another study looked at exercise and how it can improve blood circulation. They examined elderly adults who had memory problems. Half of them participated in exercises and the other half only did stretching.
The group participating in active exercise showed a 47% improvement in their memory. Imaging also showed improvements in blood flow in the brain. Poor blood flow can be one of the contributors to cognitive impairment and memory loss.
Exercising can work towards boosting blood volumes and circulation to critical components of the brain that improve memory.
Improving Your Health and Reducing the Risks
What causes poor blood flow? Chronic illnesses such as PAD and diabetes can be some of the leading contributors to restricted blood circulation to your extremities.
There are also other lifestyle causes such as obesity, smoking, and lack of exercise and a balanced diet. Poor blood flow doesn’t have to be permanent. There are plenty of healthy lifestyle changes people can make that improve circulation and overall health.
Fortunately, there are some simple lifestyle changes we can all start making that will reduce our risk of poor blood circulation. These lifestyle changes include habits such as eating healthier, exercising more, stopping tobacco use, improving overall health conditions and using targeted remedies.
Simple remedies can be added to your daily routine to improve your blood flow and your heart health, and reduce the risks of developing poor circulation. These remedies include supplements such as the Buddahealth Cordyceps Militaris.
The Buddahealth Cordyceps Militaris is a mushroom extract that is commonly known for its overall body benefitting properties, including its ability to improve heart function. The heart plays an important role in blood circulation, therefore maintaining a healthy heart function is vital for ensuring you have an effective blood flow around the body. Cordyceps Militaris also contains a specific sugar content that can help manage type 2 diabetes along with the appropriate medication according to a 2016 study. As diabetes is linked to poor blood circulation, the cordyceps militaris may be a beneficial addition to your wellness routine.
For more information on healthy lifestyle habits, check out our website for tips and tricks. Always make sure to contact a trusted physician if you have any concerns about your health and before adding supplements to your diet.