Every single day, blood flows throughout our bodies. From a personal perspective, it seems effortless. We don’t even think about it. It just happens. However, from the heart’s perspective, the job can be getting more difficult, and even strenuous. This is especially true if plaques (fatty deposits that harden) build up on arterial walls, narrowing the pipeline or creating obstructions to the smooth flow of blood.
Poor blood circulation is not something that will happen over night. It takes time…years. That’s why this problem commonly affects seniors more than it affects youth.
Fortunately, there are actions a person can take to improve circulation, including the use of medications and therapies, and making lifestyle changes. It is important to first speak with your doctor and develop a “workable” plan for keeping blood flowing as freely as possible.
In the pulmonary circulation subsystem, the heart and lungs work together to take waste out of the bloodstream and return oxygen-enriched blood to the body.
Types Of Circulation
The circulatory system consists of the heart, blood vessels and blood, and includes four subsystems.
- Arterial – Carries nutrient-rich blood away from the heart to all parts of the body. The pathways are arteries and arterioles which are strong and flexible.
- Venous – Carries oxygen-depleted blood and waste back to the heart. The pathways are veins, which have thinner walls than arteries.
- Capillary – Connects the arterial and venous systems with the body. The pathways are very small blood vessels with very thin walls that allow for the exchange of nutrients and waste between the blood and parts of the body.
- Pulmonary – Utilizes all three systems above to clean and enrich blood. Arteries take blood into the lungs for replenishment. Capillaries make the exchanges. Then veins return oxygen-rich blood back to the heart.
Signs Of Poor Flow
Since blood flows throughout the body, signs of poor circulation can appear in many forms.
- Limbs – Numbness in arms, hands, legs, hands, ankles and feet. In addition, leg cramps, varicose veins, and blue or black patches of skin (cyanosis) can be signs.
- Heart – Chest pain, a rise in cholesterol level and high blood pressure. In addition, feeling breathless and exhausted when performing common tasks can be signs.
- Brain – Lethargy, lack of clarity and loss of memory. In addition, sudden dizziness and unexplained headaches may be symptoms.
- Liver – Dull appearance of skin, lack of appetite and weight loss.
- Kidneys – Swelling of appendages, increase in blood pressure, altered heart rate and feeling tired all the time.
(Sources: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, HealthGuidance.org )
Who’s At Risk?
There are over 3 million people in the U.S. that are afflicted with glaucoma, of which half don’t know they have it. Although, anyone can be a victim of this disease, some people face a higher risk for contraction. They include:
- People over the age of 60. The risk increases as the age of the senior increases.
- People of Afro-American descent. They have an incidence rate of glaucoma that is much higher than the rest of the population and are stricken with the disease at younger ages.
- People suffering from diabetes.
- People with a family history of glaucoma.
- People with a high degree of nearsightedness.
- People who have had an eye injury or eye surgery.
- People who have taken steroids for long periods of time.
(Sources: National Eye Institute, Glaucoma Research Foundation)