South Florida Vascular Associates South Florida Vascular Associates

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Minimally Invasive Treatments for Varicose and Spider Veins

Vein disease is said to affect nearly 50 percent of men and women in the United States. That means almost half the American population is suffering with some sort of venous condition. Luckily, we now have simple, fast and painless procedures to end your discomfort, boost your self-esteem from walking around with unsightly legs and get you back to walking around without pain.

Causes of vein disease
•     Heredity. Having a family member with prominent veins may increase the risk of you developing them.
•    Age. The normal wear and tear of aging may cause valves in the veins to weaken and not work as well.
•    Gender. Women are two to three times more likely to develop spider veins than men. Changes in hormones due to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or taking birth control pills may increase a woman's risk of developing spider veins.
•    Overweight and obesity. Having extra weight on the body can put additional pressure on the veins.
•    Prolonged standing or sitting. This is particularly true with legs bent or crossed. When standing or sitting with legs bent or crossed, the veins have to work harder to pump the blood up to the heart.

Tired, achy and swollen legs might be symptoms of vein disease, such as varicose veins that are deeper in the legs. Not only are varicose veins unpleasant to look at, they can also become a serious problem so if you have varicose veins it is important for you to have a vascular doctor look at them to prevent more serious complications.

Spider and varicose veins are the result of trapped blood in the veins and are essentially visible signs of vein disease, whether or not you experience other symptoms. They don’t usually present a problem on their own, but there may be a more serious problem lurking. Poor circulation, blood clots and deep vein thrombosis are just a few of the conditions that may or may not cause symptoms, but can worsen over time and become life-threatening if they’re left untreated.

Most procedures available to you these days are minimally invasive, which means they’re fast and convenient. Treatments are done in our office and usually take under 1 hour. There is little, if any, down time, so depending on the treatment you need, you can have treatment during your lunch hour and return to work. Additionally, your insurance provider may cover some of costs of your treatment. One of our board certified endovascular surgeons will work with you to create a personalized plan of action for treating your veins.

Contact South Florida Vascular Associates today and ask about Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) for varicose veins and  sclerotherapy treatment for spider veins. You will be happy you did!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Make a Big Difference When it Comes to Preventing Blocked Arteries

Blocked arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, can have serious effects on the entire body, but fortunately, if you pay close attention to risk factors, dietary factors and exercise, you can potentially prevent this from happening.

Atherosclerosis is the process by which the artery lining becomes hardened and develops plaque buildup that eventually leads to obstruction of normal blood flow through the arteries to the extremities causing peripheral artery disease, PAD.

Coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States, occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. More than 7 million Americans die each year from CAD.

About 10 million Americans have PAD, a condition that puts them at four to five times higher risk of heart attack or stroke. In PAD, narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, often the legs, but can also affect arteries that carry blood from the heart to the head, arms, kidneys and stomach.
Symptoms can be silent

Atherosclerosis in general can be difficult to diagnose because well over 50 percent of people with coronary artery disease or peripheral artery disease have no symptoms.

Diagnosis can be made in several ways. If a patient has two or more risk factors, a stress test might be ordered. Vascular studies may be done to look for reduced blood flow in the neck or leg. In addition, if you are a smoker, stop smoking now. If you are diabetic be sure to eat properly and manage your statin medication to reduce cholesterol. And exercise, exercise, exercise! Exercise is one of the best “medicines” to maintain a healthy body.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis include:
•    Smoking
•    Diabetes
•    Being older than age 75
•    High blood pressure or high cholesterol
•    Obesity
•    A family history of heart disease

Friday, November 22, 2013

SFVA Is Awarded AvMed’s Medicare High Performance Network for 2014

AvMed Medicare Members Benefit by Lower or No Co-payment for Medical Services

South Florida Vascular Associates is pleased to announce that they have been awarded AvMed’s Medicare High Performance Network (HPN) for 2014. This high performance program compares physicians and groups of similar specialties who meet or exceed AvMed’s quality of care and cost efficiency criteria. The HPN award is in recognition of our exemplary performance in areas such as proper insurance coding, cost efficiencies or other clinical patient care standards.

One major benefit of achieving this award is the ability to offer AvMed members a lower or no co-payment for medical services. AvMed members who visit non- HPN designated providers will incur higher co-payments. The award will remain in place until 2016.

We thank our AvMed medicare patients for chosing our practice and we look forward to providing you with high quality medical care for many years to come.

William Julien, MD
Warren Swee, MD, MPH
Curtis Anderson, MD, PhD

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Diabetics Who Suffer from Peripheral Artery Disease Can Be at Risk of Heart Attack: Monitor Your Blood Pressure and Keep it Low

In peripheral arterial disease (PAD), the blood vessels in the legs are narrowed by fatty deposits, a condition known as atherosclerosis. PAD is a risk factor for heart attacks, because the atherosclerosis most likely also occurs in the coronary arteries.

Researchers at the University of Colorado studied a group of 950 people with diabetes, which is a commonly associated with PAD. In the study, 480 people had normal blood pressure and 53 of them had PAD. The participants took either a placebo or a blood pressure lowering drug. In the first group, blood pressure went down to an average of 137/81 and in the second group the level was 128/75. It is recommended by The American Heart Association that people with diabetes maintain a blood pressure of less than 130/80.

In the study, 22 patients with PAD were in the drug group and 31 in the placebo group. In patients with PAD, 12 heart attacks occurred among those in the placebo group and only three in the group on blood pressure lowering drugs. Measurement of blood flow in the legs showed that even when blood flow was restricted by severe atherosclerosis, blood pressure lowering medication reduced heart attack risk. The study reinforces the importance of blood pressure control in people with diabetes.

How does high blood pressure affect your arteries?
High blood pressure increases your risk of having PAD. Over time, high blood pressure damages the wall of the arteries. As a result, the arteries become thick, hard, narrow and rough inside, making it harder for the blood to flow.

High blood pressure also increases your risk for having a heart attack, stroke, eye problems and kidney disease.  Controlling your blood pressure will lower your chances of having PAD, a heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

It’s always a good idea to be educated and proactive about your health.  Many things can affect your blood pressure, including the foods you eat, your intake of salt or sodium, your weight, your level of physical activity, your alcohol intake, whether or not you smoke, and how you handle stress.  Make the proper choices to keep healthy and be sure to visit your doctor for annual check-ups.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Peripheral Artery Disease: Screening and Early Treatment Can Save your Legs and your Life

Do you experience frequent leg cramps, leg pain when walking and slow-to-heal sores on your feet? Do you know these symptoms can also be symptoms of a serious disease?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) occurs when there is narrowing of the blood vessels (arteries) outside of the heart. Most frequently, PAD affects the arteries in the pelvis and legs, but it can also affect the arteries in the arms, kidneys and stomach, as well as the aorta, a major blood vessel that comes from the heart and supplies blood to the rest of the body. PAD in the legs occurs when the leg arteries become clogged with fatty deposits that can reduce blood flow to the legs and feet and, if left untreated, amputation may be necessary in severe cases.

PAD can also be a red flag that the same fatty deposit build-up is happening in blood vessels elsewhere in your body, putting you at a  risk for having a heart attack or stroke. PAD affects 12 to 20 percent of Americans age 65 or older, yet only one-third of them have any symptoms, according to the American Heart Association. Even those who do experience PAD symptoms often fail to mention them to their doctor, so their PAD is left untreated.

Symptoms of PAD can include: leg pain when walking, foot or toe pain that disturbs sleep, a decrease in body temperature in the lower leg or foot, sores on legs or feet that are slow to heal, a change in the skin color of the legs or feet, and slower hair and toenail growth.

Very often people think their chronic leg pain is due to arthritis or part of the aging process, so their PAD goes undiagnosed. The earlier you can get diagnosis of PAD, the better chance you have of restoring the blood flow in the legs and avoiding more serious problems.

One of the most common tests for PAD is called ankle-brachial index (ABI), a simple, non-invasive test that can be done right in our office. In a typical ABI test  a blood pressure cuff is used to measure the blood pressure in both arms and ankles at rest and then again after exercise. Specific changes in the blood pressure between rest and exercise can determine if a patient has PAD. In addition, other tests may include a review of your medical history to understand issues such as family history, diet and smoking habits – all of which can contribute to your risk of having PAD.

While PAD can become a very serious condition if left untreated, it also can be successfully treated through a number of methods. Many patients are helped by simply increasing their exercise and adopting a low fat diet. Some patients may need to take blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medications, or blood thinners. For stubborn blockages, an atherectomy proecdure may be needed to drill away the plaque from inside the vessel and a balloon catheter may be inserted through a small incision in an artery to the location of the blockage and inflated to open the vessel. A stent - a tiny metal tube - may also be used to hold the artery open.

If you are experiencing any symptoms mentioned in this blog, please contact our office to schedule an appointment for an evaluation by one of our board certified endovascular surgeons. We have 3 office locations Boynton Beach, Coconut Creek and Plantation for your convenience. South Florida Vascular Associates is equipped with 3 in-office endovascular suites where most of our patients’ procedures are done in the comfort of our office. Easy in and easy discharge.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Walking Relieves Leg Pain Caused by Peripheral Artery Disease

We know how important walking can be for overall health. A new study now shows it can also help reduce leg pain in patients with Peripheral Artery Disease.  12 million Americans have PAD and 4 million of those patients suffer with leg pain.

A study released in July’s Journal of the American Medical Association, followed nearly 200 patients on a 6-month intervention program that included part of the group walking 5 days a week for 50 minutes. Patients also spent one day a week in a support group for 45 minutes.
Most walkers increased speed and endurance. The results showed that supervised walking on the treadmill improves PAD symptoms as much or more than surgery.

Researchers believe the support group combined with the exercise was a key part of patient success. Those not assigned to exercise — who attended weekly health lectures instead — actually grew weaker, walking 30 feet less than when they started.

At South Florida Vascular Associates we encourage a healthy lifestyle as part of the overall treatment for PAD. Our expert interventional radiologists develop a specific treatment plan for patients with vascular problems. At SFVA we choose to treat patients in minimally invasive ways whenever possible.

The minimally invasive techniques used by interventional radiologists often replace open surgical procedures. This means smaller incisions, less risk, less pain and shorter recovery time for patients.

At South Florida Vascular Associates many of our patients are treated right in out Coconut Creek office in a sophisticated endovascular surgery suite – one of the first of its kind in the country. If you’re suffering from any vascular disease, the doctors at SFVA can help. We have 3 office locations for your convenience. Coconut Creek, Boynton Beach and Plantation. Contact us  today for an appointment - (954) 725-4141.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Peripheral Artery Disease: A Global Crisis

The number of people with Peripheral Artery Disease worldwide has skyrocketed. In 2000, there were 164 million cases reported and in 2010 the number jumped to 202 million. That's more than a 23% increase in just 10 years according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet.
Peripheral Artery Disease occurs when fatty deposits build up and block the arteries, restricting blood flow and oxygen to the legs and feet. It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and can lead to difficulty walking and amputation.

PAD often goes undiagnosed. Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol.
The new study from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom suggests 1 in 10 over the age of 70 is affected by PAD - 1 in 6 over the age of 80.

Longer life expectancy and changing lifestyles appears to be reasons for the increase.  And it seems income plays a role in who is affected. PAD increased 13% in high income countries and nearly 29% in the rest of the world.

The findings are a call to action. There is an urgent need to assess treatment and create prevention strategies says the study’s lead author Gerry Fowkes.  When a condition affects as many as 200 million people a global strategic plan must be developed.

At South Florida Vascular Associates we develop a specific plan to treat vascular conditions for each individual patient. Our expert interventional radiologists focus on vascular problems and treating them in minimally invasive ways.

 See Dr. Swee's interview on WPLG-TV about a new device for Peripheral Artery Disease. Drs. William Julien, Warren Swee, and Curtis Anderson are board certified endovascular surgeons at South Florida Vascular Associates. They are experts in the field of interventional radiology, one of the fastest growing areas of medicine. The minimally invasive techniques used by interventional radiologists often replace open surgical procedures. This means smaller incisions, less risk, less pain and shorter recovery time for patients.

What makes SFVA unique is it allows for many patients to be treated in the Coconut Creek office in a sophisticated endovascular surgery suite – one of the first of its kind in the country. If you’re suffering from any vascular disease, the doctors at SFVA can help. Contact us  today for an evaluation - (954) 725-4141.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Vascular Disease linked to Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s – Diet and Exercise Key

Eating healthy foods like lean proteins and vegetables and exercising regularly have always been the remedy for losing weight or reducing the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. A new study now suggests that same healthy combination may also delay or prevent the onset of dementia due to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

This study by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is the first to compare the presence of cerebrovascular disease across the whole spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers were surprised how strong the link is between vascular disease and dementia. Nearly 80% of Alzheimer's patients studied had some form of vascular disease.
There are currently no modifying therapies to change the course of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease. So based on this new research, promoting a healthy lifestyle especially in young people will likely help reduce the number of these patients in the future.

One of the most common vascular conditions is Peripheral Artery Disease or PDA when narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. PAD is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries or atherosclerosis. Angioplasty and stenting are just some of the treatments that can be used to open the arteries and restore blood flow.

The doctors at South Florida Vascular Associates focus on vascular problems and treating them in minimally invasive ways. This rapidly growing area of medicine is known as interventional radiology. The minimally invasive techniques used by interventional radiologists often replace open surgical procedures. This means smaller incisions, less risk, less pain and shorter recovery time for patients.

Dr. William Julien is president of South Florida Vascular Associates. His unique practice allows for many patients to be treated right in his Coconut Creek office in a sophisticated endovascular surgery suite – one of the first of its kind in the country.

If you’re suffering from vascular disease, the doctors at SFVA can help. Contact us today for an evaluation from one of our board certified physicians. We have 3 locations for your convenience. Coconut Creek, Boynton Beach and Plantation, Florida. - (954) 725-4141.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

If You Have Plans to Travel this Summer Be Sure to Keep Your Legs Moving to Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis

If you are traveling this summer, you might want to make sure you work in some leg stretches along the way. When you sit for any extended period of time, blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis, can develop deep inside the veins in the legs and they can become life threatening.
Deep Vein Thrombosis in Left Leg

Serious blood clots are typically more common after the age of 60, and are twice as likely to occur during long-distance travel. If a blood clot forms in the leg, it can potentially break off and travel up to the lungs where it can block normal breathing. This is called a pulmonary embolism and can be fatal if left untreated

To reduce your chances of getting deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism while traveling, you should:

•    Move your legs often in your seat
•    Do stretches by flexing and pointing your toes
•    Walk up and down the aisle
•    If traveling by car, stop every couple of hours and walk around for a few minutes.
•    Wear compression socks or stockings if you have a history of clotting or circulation problems
•    Discuss your travel plans with health-care provider
•    Stay well-hydrated during your journey

Since summer is a popular season for travel, make sure you know how to reduce your chances of deep vein thrombosis.

If you are experiencing pain and swelling in your leg and you suspect that you might have deep vein thrombosis please contact our office immediately to schedule an evaluation with one of our board certified endovascular surgeons. We have 3 convenient office locations Coconut Creek, Boynton Beach and Plantation, Florida. Contact us today at 954-725-4141.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Diabetics and Superbug Risks

If there’s anything Americans can agree on, it’s that diabetes is a disease you should not take lightly. Lifestyle changes, like exercising and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, can help to prevent and reduce the symptoms of diabetes.

Nearly 26 million American children and adults have diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2012 diagnosed diabetes in the United States cost $245 billion.
The Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare was created to cut healthcare costs.  So it’s important for Americans to adopt some of these lifestyle changes to prevent higher health care costs for the nation.

Constant monitoring of diabetics may actually cut costs. A new study released in May 2013 from the Journal of Medical Microbiology only supports this theory.
Experts have known for years that diabetics are at greater risk of contracting bacterial infections. The new study shows these same patients are at more risk than non-diabetics to contract those Superbugs that are resistant to certain antibiotics.

Also one of the conditions that result from diabetes is critical limb ischemia or “diabetic foot.” This disorder occurs when arteries of the lower extremities are severely blocked significantly reducing blood flow.

Diabetic patients are more at risk of CLI and amputation of a limb. New research indicates these patients not only need excellent care but constant follow up and regular visits to the doctor to prevent diabetic foot ulcerations and ultimately amputations.

At South Florida Vascular Associates we provide the most advanced vascular care and the latest minimally invasive endovascular treatments.  Our team of interventional radiologists performs a variety of procedures in our state-of-the-Art endovascular suites.

If you are a diabetic and you are experiencing pain in your legs while walking, you may have peripheral artery disease which can become a serious problem if left untreated. We invite you to contact our office to schedule an evaluation with one of our board certified interventional radiologists. We have 3 convenient office locations for your convenience, Boynton Beach, Coconut Creek and Plantation.

Contact us today at 954-573-2929.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Show Off Legs With Confidence – Attacking Varicose Veins

South Florida is known for its year-long balmy temperatures. Because of the heat, shorts, skirts and dresses are fashion staples – a way for men and women to show off their sexy legs.
But some folks will keep their legs hidden because of embarrassing varicose veins or spider veins. 40 million Americans in all are affected.


Varicose veins are blue, twisted and thick veins that typically develop on the calves or lower legs. Not only are these veins unattractive but they can hurt. Symptoms of varicose veins include aching, debilitating pain, swelling and rashes.

When valves in the legs' superficial veins stop closing, gravity pulls blood back down and pools inside the veins. This is called venous insufficiency.

Varicose veins affect both men and women over 50. But below the age of 50, more women have them.

Varicose Veins Causes

The most common reasons for varicose veins are:
•    Heredity
•    Multiple Pregnancies
•    Obesity
•    History of Blood Clots

Spider Veins Causes

Spider veins can be caused by the backup of blood. They can also be caused by hormone changes, exposure to the sun, and injuries.


There are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing both spider and varicose veins. These are things that can also help to ease the discomfort from the ones you already have:
•    Wear Sunscreen
•    Exercise/Focus on strengthening the legs
•    Don’t cross legs
•    Don’t stand for long periods of time
•    Eat a high fiber diet
•    Avoid wearing high heels


Some spider veins and varicose veins cannot be prevented. When you get them, exercising, elevating the legs and wearing support stockings can help to relieve the symptoms of varicose veins. But when these and the other suggestions above do not work, surgery may bring relief.

At South Florida Vascular Associates, we treat vascular problems in minimally invasive ways. Our team of interventional radiologists offers the most advanced procedures in our state-of-the-Art endovascular suites.

If you have varicose or spider veins and want to know your treatment options, call South Florida Vascular Associates today at 954-573-2929.

Preventing Peripheral Artery Disease

America’s population is aging and is contributing to the increasing health care costs in the country. One of the most prevalent conditions affecting America’s older population is Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD.

One in five people over age 60 has it - an estimated 8 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. PAD is a narrowing of the arteries caused by a plaque buildup. This limits blood flow to your head, organs and limbs which can potentially be life threatening.

Symptoms and Complications

PAD can go undetected for years, slowly and silently developing in your body. UW Medicine Health has some very important information on what you can do to prevent PAD. The most common cause of PAD is hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. If the arteries that deliver blood to the legs are blocked, this will cause debilitating leg pain, ulcers and can lead to amputation. The most common cause of stroke is blocked arteries to the brain. And when PAD affects arteries to the kidneys, this can lead to severe high blood pressure and kidney failure.

Common risk factors include:
•    Older than 60
•    Ethnicity- more African Americans are affected
•    Family History
•    High Cholesterol
•    High Blood Pressure
•    High blood sugars and diabetes
•    Obesity
•    Smoking/History of Smoking

Treatment Options

In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to improve the condition. If routine screenings of Peripheral Artery Disease for blood pressure, blood cholesterol, lipids and sugar levels show you are at risk for PAD, medications are often necessary. When medication does not work, surgery is needed to open up the arteries.

Endovascular Surgery

The doctors at South Florida Vascular Associates focus on vascular problems and treating them in minimally invasive ways. This rapidly growing area of medicine is known as interventional radiology. The minimally invasive techniques used by interventional radiologists often replace open surgical procedures. This means smaller incisions, less risk, less pain and shorter recovery time for patients.

At South Florida Vascular Associates, with offices in Coconut Creek, Boynton Beach and Plantation, we are very successful treating patients with PAD because we use the latest multidisciplinary approaches that treat the whole patient. Our patients are also treated in our unique office setting which has 3 sophisticated endovascular surgery suites where the majority of our patients are treated. SFVA is one of few interventional radiology practices in the US where patients can be treated in the comfort of an office setting.

If you’re suffering from PAD, the doctors at SFVA can help. Contact us today for an appointment - (954) 725-4141.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

10 years after NBC Journalist David Bloom's death, greater awareness of DVT

By Linda Carroll Today Health

Ten years ago while covering the war in Iraq, NBC journalist David Bloom was struck and killed, not by a stray bullet or roadside bomb, but by a clot that traveled to his lungs and blocked blood flow.  The clot had started in Bloom’s legs as a deep vein thrombosis and then traveled silently up to his lungs until it lodged in an artery there.

Bloom’s family was stunned when they heard the news.

“We had braced ourselves for all the war-related dangers that that assignment entailed,” his wife, Melanie Bloom told “But when I got that call, I had never heard  of DVT myself and I don’t think David ever had. The more I learned, the more shocked I was. It wasn’t an IED or a bomb that took his life. It was this DVT.”

As a way of finding some meaning in her husband’s death Bloom set out to educate the public about DVT and has been working to alert everyone to the danger.

Thursday, she told TODAY how far that effort has come.

“In the past ten years we’ve established March as national DVT awareness month and we’ve raised awareness by about 20 percent,  which is quite significant because the year David passed a study showed that 74 percent of Americans were completely unaware of DVT,” she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer.

DVT can be treated and pulmonary embolism sometimes averted, Dr. Geno Merli, a clinical professor at Jefferson University and co-director of the Jefferson Vascular Center, told TODAY. Merli is also a paid consultant to Sanofi-Aventis, which makes a DVT therapy.

David Bloom, 39, died of a pulmonary embolism while covering the U.S.-led war in Iraq, on April 6, 2003.

Further, we can lower our risk of dying by changing the way we live and by knowing the warning signs that a DVT is developing, Merli said.

“There’s a personal risk through obesity, and age, which of course we can’t change,” Merli said. “And there are some, such as cancer, medications that could cause [a DVT] or immobility, say from the fracture of a leg.”

Other risk factors include injury, surgery, illness, pregnancy, smoking, and prolonged immobility, which can occur if you’re sitting on a long plane trip without moving your legs.

DVT warning signs include pain, swelling, tenderness, discoloration or redness of the affected area, and skin that is warm to the touch. Symptoms of pulmonary embolisms include shortness of breath, an apprehensive feeling, chest pain, rapid pulse, sweating, or a bloody cough.

However, “50 percent of the time there are no symptoms,” Bloom said, “so it’s important to know if you fall into any of those risk categories.”

DVT and pulmonary embolism strikes about 300,000 to 600,000 people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The Surgeon General’s office estimates that more than 100,000 people die each year as a result of  DVT and pulmonary embolism.

Five years after her husband’s death Melanie Bloom remarried and had two more children in addition to the three she had with Bloom. Still, “we think about David every single day. It’s been so cathartic and wonderful to know we’ve saved lives in his memory and in his honor,” she said.

At South Florida Vascular Associates we have successfully treated hundreds of patients. If you have been diagnosed with DVT and would like more information on treatment options please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our board certified endovascular surgeons.

Monday, March 4, 2013

March is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month

Did you know?
•    According to the Vascular Disease Foundation, blood clots affect over 600,000 Americans each year and cause more deaths each year than the more well-publicized conditions of breast cancer, AIDS, and motor vehicle accidents.
•    Blood clots are a leading cause of preventable hospital deaths in the United States.
•    Blood clots are the leading cause of maternal death in the United States.
•    One-half of clot patients will have long-term complications and one-third will have a recurrence within 10 years.
•    An estimated $10 billion in medical costs in the US each year can be attributed to DVT and Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
What is DVT?

This patient has a DVT in his left leg.
 Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in the deep veins in the legs.  These clots can break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (PE).  DVT’s can cause permanent damage to the leg veins that result in long-term pain, swelling, change in skin color and skin ulcers.

Some people experience swelling and varying levels of discomfort in the affected area, while others don't feel anything at all.  The symptoms of DVT can also be similar to those of other conditions, like a pulled muscle. Because some people with DVT don't have any symptoms, and because the symptoms can masquerade as a more benign ailment, there's often a delay in diagnosis.  That's when DVT can be fatal.  DVT/PE is the fourth leading cause of death in western society.

What Causes Blood Clots (DVT and PE)?
Blood clots may form when either the flow of blood in a vein slows, damage to a vein occurs, or the blood is more clotable. Many factors can increase a person’s risk for developing a blood clot in a vein.

Common risk factors for developing a blood clot include:
• Hospitalization
• Being paralyzed
• Prolonged sitting

Surgery and Trauma:
• Major surgery (especially of the pelvis, abdomen, hip, knee)
• Bone fracture or cast
• Catheter in a big vein (PICC line, central venous catheter, or port)

Increased estrogens:
• Birth control pills, patches, rings
• Pregnancy, including up to 6 weeks after giving birth
• Estrogen and progestin hormone therapy

Medical conditions:
• Cancer and chemotherapy
• Heart failure
• Inflammatory disorders (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease)
• The kidney disorder called nephrotic syndrome

Other risk factors:
• Previous blood clot
• Family history of clots
• Clotting disorder (inherited or acquired)
• Obesity
• Older age
• Cigarette smoking
• Varicose veins

Tips for Preventing Blood Clots (DVT and PE)

•    Stay active.  Immobility increases the risk of developing clots. If you've been sitting for a long period of time (such as long-distance travel)   stop and take a break to stretch your legs.
•    Maintain an ideal body weight. 
•    Know your risk factors for developing a clot and discuss these with your doctor.
•    Know your family medical history.  Make sure your doctor knows about any history of blood clots.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed or is experiencing symptoms of DVT, please contact our office to set up an appointment with one of our board certified endovascular surgeons to discuss which treatment option works best for you.  We have 3 convenient offices located thoughout Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Do You Have Wounds on Your Feet that Won’t Heal? Seek Medical Attention Immediately

If you have wounds on your feet that won't heal, you may have critical limb ischemia which can lead to the loss of a limb.

Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is the most advanced stage of peripheral artery disease (PAD) and is the leading cause of amputation worldwide. Critical limb ischemia results from a progressive thickening of the lining of an artery caused by a buildup of plaque known as atherosclerosis, which narrows or blocks blood flow reducing circulation of blood to the legs and feet.  If PAD is left untreated, CLI can develop because the leg vessels may become so severe that almost no blood can make it through the vessels to your feet causing the tissue in your feet and leg to become starved of oxygen.  You may feel severe foot pain even at rest, and form ulcers on your legs and feet. In severe cases, tissue can die due to poor circulation, causing gangrene and this can ultimately lead to loss of a limb.  If you have advanced diabetes or kidney disease, you are at particularly high risk of developing CLI.

CLI needs to be treated promptly because the symptoms can progress very quickly.
The goal of treatment is to relieve your pain and allow ulcerations and wounds to heal.  In the case of gangrene, the goal is to remove the dead tissue with subsequent healing of the underlying tissue. Treatment requires aggressive revascularization of blocked arteries as with PAD.  However, because blockages are so advanced in CLI, more advanced techniques are often required.
 The illustration shows how P.A.D. can affect arteries in the legs. Figure A shows a normal artery with normal blood flow. The inset image shows a cross-section of the normal artery. Figure B shows an artery with plaque buildup that's partially blocking blood flow. The inset image shows a cross-section of the narrowed artery.

What can you do to protect yourself?
Stop smoking. Smoking doesn't only increase your risk of cardiovascular disease but it increases your risk of PAD and CLI as well. Women who smoke are at the greatest risk.

Pay attention to the condition of your legs and feet. Are your feet often in pain or numb, especially when elevated? Are your toes slightly blue? Signs of CLI also include shiny, dry skin and thickening toenails.

CLI is closely associated with advanced age, men over 60 and women after menopause. It is also associated with diabetes and kidney disease.

Be aware of symptoms. Ischemic rest pain is a common symptom where legs ache and cramp during exercise or movement. Other symptoms include skin ulcers, lesions and a slow pulse in legs and feet.

CLI is a serious, complex disease that requires a multidisciplinary approach.  At South Florida Vascular Associates we work closely with your primary care physician, wound care physician, and other specialty physicians to provide the comprehensive care needed to treat CLI effectively and preserve the limb.

If you suspect or if you have been diagnosed with CLI, please call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our board certified endovascular surgeons to evaluate your condition and discuss the best treatment plan for you. For your convenience, we have 3 office locations throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties, Coconut Creek, Plantation and Boynton Beach.