Why Do My Legs Feel Tired, Achy, and Heavy?

Why Do My Legs Feel Tired, Achy, and Heavy?

You’ve been on your feet all day, or you’ve gone for an unusually long walk, and your legs feel tired and achy. These are perfectly normal results of muscle fatigue, and the symptoms should clear once your legs get some much-needed rest.

If, however, you’re dealing with tired, heavy, or achy legs more days than not, and even the smallest amount of exercise spurs the symptoms on, a cardiovascular issue might be to blame.

As heart health experts, the team here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists is all too familiar with the many ways that cardiovascular issues can present themselves, and tired, heavy, and achy legs are on that list.

Let’s look at some of the cardiovascular culprits behind this common issue.

Chronic venous insufficiency

Getting blood to and from your legs is more challenging than other body parts because of distance and gravity.

To aid in the return trip of blood to your heart, the veins in your legs contain tiny, one-way valves that open and close as blood flows upward, preventing it from spilling backward. If these valves weaken, blood isn’t getting back up to your heart and lungs for oxygen as efficiently.

Called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), this condition affects about 6 to 7 million Americans, and a common sign of the problem is legs that feel heavy, achy, or tired.

An outward sign of CVI is varicose veins, which occur when blood pools and engorges a vein, forcing it to the surface of the skin

Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Now, let’s head in the other direction, away from your heart. Your arteries are responsible for delivering oxygenated blood to your body, but if the arteries are blocked or narrowed, the amount of blood that flows through is limited. 

The effect of this limited blood flow is often felt in your legs, which aren’t getting enough oxygen. When this occurs, any activity can lead to legs that feel heavy, fatigued, and uncomfortable, if not painful.

PAD affects between 7 to 12 million Americans, and about half develop symptoms in the legs.

Heart failure

If you have heart failure, a condition in which your heart isn’t able to pump enough oxygenated blood to your body, it can lead to edema, or fluid buildup in your legs.

As a result of the edema, your legs can feel very tired and heavy.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

This is a condition in which you have a clot in one of the deep veins in your leg, usually only on one side. When this occurs, you can experience pain in that leg, often described as throbbing or aching.

As noted, several potential cardiovascular-related issues can lead to sluggish and uncomfortable legs. That said, plenty of other issues, such as a compressed nerve in your back, can also lead to leg symptoms.

From where we stand, tired, heavy, and achy legs are often the first signs of a cardiovascular issue, so we urge you to get checked out if the symptoms are ongoing.

To rule out or confirm a cardiovascular issue, you can start by contacting our office in Mountain View, California, to set up a consultation.

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