The Link Between Peripheral Edema and Your Heart

All too often, symptoms of a medical condition can develop in seemingly unrelated areas, which is certainly true of cardiovascular-related peripheral edema. Since it’s difficult to connect the dots with medical issues like these, you need trusted medical providers in your corner, which is where we come in.

At Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists, our team of experienced cardiovascular experts understands the connection between your heart and the rest of your body and how a problem in one area can lead to symptoms in others, which is the case with peripheral edema.

In the following, we take a look at what edema is, how it can be heart-related, and why seeking help is important.

Defining peripheral edema

The word edema simply means “swelling” and the word peripheral means “outlying.” So, when we talk about peripheral edema, we’re referring to swelling that develops away from where the true problem lies.

The swelling that comes with edema is caused by a buildup of fluids, and when it occurs in your arms, hands, legs, and feet, we call it peripheral edema.

The symptoms of peripheral edema include:

Edema often develops gradually, so you may notice that clothes feel tighter, in general, and you have trouble taking off and putting on rings. Another telltale sign of edema is seeing a temporary indentation left behind after pressing a finger to your swollen skin.

Edema and your heart health

Edema can be caused by a wide range of conditions, some of which are temporary and perfectly harmless, such as swollen ankles during a pregnancy or puffiness in your hands and feet during a flight because of water retention.

Persistent problems with edema, however, could be a signal that your heart isn’t functioning properly.

For example, if you have a problem with venous insufficiency in your legs, which means your veins struggle to circulate back up to your heart, you may experience edema in your lower legs, ankles, and feet. This occurs because blood pools backward and forces fluids out of your blood vessels and into the surrounding tissues.

A more serious cause of peripheral edema is congestive heart failure, a condition in which your heart is too weak to pump blood efficiently. Here again, the reason for the fluid buildup is that your blood isn’t circulating well, and this sluggishness forces fluids out of your blood vessels.

There are other causes of peripheral edema, such as kidney or liver disease, but whatever the underlying problem, ongoing edema isn’t something you should ignore.

Identifying the cause of your edema

If you struggle with peripheral edema, we urge you to come see us so that we can examine your cardiovascular system to see whether the problem stems from a malfunction in this area.

Even if we find that it doesn’t, you can now cross these potential causes of your edema off your list and refocus your efforts.

To get started, contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up an appointment.

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