There are many different types of coronavirus, but the one responsible for this pandemic is called SARS-CoV-2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified COVID-19 as a respiratory tract infection that can compromise both the upper and lower respiratory systems. Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
Other symptoms include loss of taste and/or smell, fatigue, body aches, chills, nausea, and diarrhea.
How COVID-19 Affects Veins
Researchers and doctors have discovered that, in addition to the symptoms listed above, COVID-19 also affects the vascular system. Made up of your veins, heart, blood, and even your brain, the vascular system presents a whole other set of symptoms including:
- Increased blood clots
- Increased strokes
- “COVID toes,” in which one or more toes may swell and turn a pink, red, or purplish color.
You might be wondering how a respiratory disease can lead to blood clots. It all starts when the virus infiltrates the endothelial cells in the lungs. This in turn can contribute to the development of blood clots, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. A group of researchers also found that 1.6% of adults with COVID-19 experienced an ischemic stroke — a type of stroke that occurs when a blockage prevents adequate blood flow from getting to the brain.
As for COVID toes, experts warn that what looks like a rash are actually microclots in the toes’ small vessels. This is just another example of the way this virus affects veins and blood vessels.
The good news is that anticoagulants show promising results for individuals with severe cases of COVID-19. These same anticoagulants may help reduce the risk of serious vascular-related complications of COVID-19 including heart damage, strokes, and deep vein thrombosis, all of which can cause death in some patients. Also, the usual recommendations on how to keep your veins healthy also help to support them during a COVID-19 infection.
Smoking negatively affects your veins, including the ones in your lungs. Also, the nicotine in cigarettes can both harden and narrow the walls of your veins. If you don’t smoke, you should not start and if you do smoke, you should quit. Your overall health will thank you.
Exercising regularly — and just being generally active. Try to aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day by walking, jogging, dancing, and biking. Also do try to stay active throughout the day. For instance, if you sit at a desk, you really need to get up at least once an hour and walk around.
Managing pre-existing health conditions
If you have any underlying health condition that might impact your veins, you need to manage that disease. For example, the high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can also weaken your blood vessels.
Stop putting off your vein care
The current wisdom is not to postpone your care during COVID-19, especially if you’re already experiencing the signs of vein issues. We have strict coronavirus guidelines in place designed to keep you and our staff safe. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 970-242-VEIN (8346) if you have any questions or to schedule a visit.