Lifestyle Changes for Chronic Venous Insufficiency

NYU Langone doctors advise people with chronic venous insufficiency to make lifestyle changes to improve blood flow in the legs. This can help reduce or eliminate symptoms, such as aching, cramping, and leg swelling.

Lifestyle changes can also help prevent symptoms from returning after you have had minimally invasive procedures or surgery.

Wear Compression Garments

Wearing compression garments can help blood that is pooling in the leg, ankle, or foot to flow in the right direction—toward the heart.

Your doctor may prescribe elastic compression stockings or socks made with a flexible, gradated fabric. These garments apply varying amounts of pressure to different parts of the legs and feet to keep blood moving properly through the veins.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity may contribute to the development of blocked or weakened valves in leg veins. Specialists at NYU Langone’s Weight Management Program can help you develop eating and exercising habits that can lead to weight loss.

Increase Activity Levels

Your doctor may recommend that you walk, ride a stationary bicycle, or jog for 30 minutes several times a week. Being active helps improve circulation and tones muscles in your legs. This can help pump blood toward the heart.

Stretching your calf and thigh muscles can also help improve blood flow.

Elevate the Legs

Standing or sitting for long periods can contribute to the pooling of blood in leg veins. Taking breaks to move your legs can help blood flow toward the heart. When seated, raise your legs by placing them on a footstool and avoid crossing them.

Avoid Tight Clothing and High Heels

Tight clothing or shoes can restrict blood flow in the legs and increase the risk of chronic venous insufficiency. High-heeled shoes can also impede blood flow in the legs. For this reason, your NYU Langone doctor may recommend wearing shoes with a low heel.

Avoid Salt

Salt, or sodium, can cause the body to retain water. Excess fluid in the legs can cause swelling and put pressure on leg veins, weakening vein walls and leading to chronic venous insufficiency.

Moisturize the Skin

Though it doesn’t treat chronic venous insufficiency, a daily application of moisturizer can heal dry or cracked skin, improving the health of your legs.

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