HEALTH/FIT­NESS

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Pets/family -

QSinceI was a teenager (I am now 34) I have suf­fered from re­ally poor cir­cu­la­tion — as do sev­eral mem­bers of my fam­ily. My feet and hands go al­most blue in the win­ter, even in­doors; they feel quite solid and it can get quite painful. Is there any­thing I can do to im­prove my cir­cu­la­tion gen­er­ally?

DR DAN RUTHER­FORD WRITES:

AYouare de­scrib­ing Ray­naud’s phe­nom­e­non, which is due to ex­ces­sive spasm of the small blood ves­sels of the skin in the hands and feet. When ex­posed to cold it is nor­mal for the skin blood ves­sels to con­tract, thus re­duc­ing the loss of body heat through the skin. In Ray­naud’s, the ves­sels con­tract more vig­or­ously and for a longer time. The con­di­tion can af­fect peo­ple of all ages, but it is more com­mon in young adult women and it is not un­usual to have a fam­ily his­tory. The cause is un­known in most peo­ple but in a mi­nor­ity there is an un­der­ly­ing prob­lem caus­ing in­flam­ma­tion of the ar­ter­ies — your doc­tor can check this. Gen­eral mea­sures to treat Ray­naud’s in­clude avoid­ing smok­ing or abrupt changes of tem­per­a­ture. Drugs to open the blood ves­sels can be help­ful, such as nifedip­ine (which is usu­ally used to treat high blood pres­sure or angina). Surgery to cut the nerves to the blood ves­sels can be of­fered to peo­ple se­verely af­fected. For more in­for­ma­tion see www.ray­nauds.org.uk.

TONY GAL­LAGHER WRITES:

AIn­terms of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, try to do pri­mar­ily car­dio­vas­cu­lar ex­er­cises like run­ning, swim­ming, and danc­ing — th­ese all pro­mote bet­ter cir­cu­la­tion. Ro­tat­ing your hands, feet and an­kles at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity should make a dif­fer­ence. Soak­ing your hands and feet in warm wa­ter or mas­sag­ing them may help, too.

It may seem ob­vi­ous but try to keep feet warm by al­ways wear­ing dry socks. Some peo­ple find it help­ful to wear mit­tens and socks to bed dur­ing win­ter. Wear a hat as much heat is lost through your scalp.

If you feel that emo­tional up­sets and stress can trig­ger an at­tack, learn­ing to recog­nise and to avoid stress­ful sit­u­a­tions may help con­trol the con­di­tion. Fi­nally, if you smoke, this can cause the skin tem­per­a­ture to fall, so that may be some­thing to be con­sid­ered also.

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