Poor blood circulation can be a frustrating and concerning issue for many people. It occurs when the blood flow throughout your body is reduced, leading to a variety of symptoms and health complications. While poor circulation can affect people of all ages, it is more common in older adults and those with certain health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
One of the lesser-known effects of poor blood circulation is its impact on wound healing. When blood flow is reduced, it can take longer for your body to deliver the necessary nutrients and oxygen to your cells, which can cause even minor injuries like cuts and bruises to heal more slowly. If you find yourself with a papercut that just won't seem to heal, it could be a sign of poor blood circulation. In this article, we'll explore ten common signs that could indicate poor circulation and what you can do to improve your overall circulation and health.
1. Chest pain
Angina is the term used to describe the chest pain that develops when your heart muscle isn't getting enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina is a sign of an underlying heart condition, typically coronary heart disease (CHD), rather than a disease in itself. When your heart has to work harder, such as during exercise or stair climbing, angina may occur. Your chest may experience pressure or squeezing. Some claim that it makes their chest feel as though it is bearing a tremendous weight. It may even seem like indigestion in some instances, making it challenging to identify from other symptoms. If you experience sudden, unexplained chest pain, visit a doctor straight soon.
2. Dry skin
Your skin may be a sign of poor circulation if it's dry, flaky, and even painful despite your best efforts to stay adequately hydrated by drinking lots of water. In fact, one of the first locations where indicators of inadequate blood flow appear is on our skin. Due to inadequate oxygenation, skin can become decolored and even develop ulcers that resemble extremely dry patches of skin.
3. Leg cramps
Smoking, being overweight, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are common risk factors for PAD. Smoking has the greatest effect but, in terms of symptoms, is also the most reversible of these.
4. Bad memory
Poor blood flow can impair many of your brain’s functions including memory, balance, and speech. This has to do with both the inadequate delivery of oxygen to the brain and poor removal of toxins and waste from the brain. After all, your brain depends on constant, intensive maintenance to keep it functioning properly.
In a 2017 study, researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee examined more than 300 participants in their 70s with low cardiac index (the blood flow pumped from the heart). They concluded that a low cardiac index was tied to reduced cerebral blood flow. This was especially true for the temporal lobes, the part of brain responsible for in memory.
5. Shortness of breath
Sudden shortness of breath can be a sign of pulmonary embolism (PE), which occurs when a blood clot forms in the body’s deep veins, travels to the lungs, and gets lodged in the lungs’ blood vessels. It’s more likely that you have PE if the symptom is accompanied by a cough and fatigue, or if you find yourself gasping after climbing two or three stairs or getting tired sooner than normal. Some other symptoms may include irregular heart rhythm, congestive heart failure, and other types of heart disease.
6. Swelling in the Legs
The accumulation of fluid in the legs or arms can be caused by a number of conditions, the most concerning of which is the heart failing to pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs. When this happens, blood backs up in the veins, causing fluid to accumulate in the body’s tissues. Swelling of the legs, especially if it is persistent, should never be ignored. It can be a warning sign of heart failure, which is life-threatening.
7. Cold hands and feet
If you have poor circulation, blood will have a harder time traveling to the distal extremities, such as fingers and toes. Blood also carries heat from your core to your extremities, and any compromise in speed or quantity of blood flow will cause these parts of the body to feel colder than other parts. You can check this yourself by comparing the temperature of your fingers and toes to the arms and legs or the rest of the body. If circulation is healthy, the temperature should be the same in both the distal extremities and the body.
8. Hair Loss
Poor circulation can also cause hair loss, as hair follicles rely on a healthy blood supply to grow and thrive.
9. Skin Discoloration
When blood flow is reduced, it can cause skin discoloration, such as a bluish tint to the skin.
10. Erectile Dysfunction
Poor circulation can also cause erectile dysfunction in men, as blood flow is necessary for achieving and maintaining an erection.