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Signs and Symptoms of Poor Blood Circulation - Longevity Blog

The circulatory system, also known as cardiovascular system, is the primary network to deliver nutrients, oxygen, hormones and other elements to the cells in the body. It is a complex system of blood vessels that provide fuel to various tissues and organs and it is an important component in waste removal from the body.

Poor blood circulation is reflected in restricted blood flow to different parts of the body, usually caused by a build-up on the inner cell walls made of fat, cholesterol and calcium. This plaque hardening inside the blood vessels and capillaries develops over time, reflecting a loss of elasticity resulting in arteriosclerosis (hardening of medium and large arteries), arteriolosclerosis (hardening of small arteries) or atherosclerosis (the build-up of a specific waxy plaque on the inside of blood vessels). Without treatment, the restricted blood flow resulting from the narrowing of the blood vessels can lead to stroke or heart attack.

Risk factors that affect blood circulation related to lifestyle include lack of exercise, being overweight, poor diet, smoking, overuse of alcohol and high levels of stress. These risks can be controlled and modified. Although poor blood circulation is prevalent in older adults, it can affect people of any age. The risks can be serious and proper attention should be given to avoid dangerous impact to limbs, heart, brain and liver.

The following are common signs and symptoms of poor blood circulation:

Numbness in hands and feet:
Numbness commonly occurs in hands, feet, arms, and legs as a sign of reduction or blockage of blood flow to these areas. Sitting in the same position for a prolonged period can result in numbness or tingling.

Inadequate delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the organs and muscles can lead to an overwhelming feeling of fatigue. Feeling exhaustion frequently can be a sign of poor circulation.

Loss of appetite
Part of proper body function requires a good blood supply to the digestive tract and for distribution of nutrients in our blood. Diminished circulation leads to a lack of appetite and slower metabolic rate.

Digestive issues
Lack of blood supply can lead to poor digestion of food and decreased nutrient absorption. This can manifest in diarrhea, stomach pains, and nausea and other digestive symptoms.

Poor immune system
Frequent illness can be a sign of poor circulation as the body cannot fight ailments without the ability of appropriate nutrients reaching different parts of the body. The immune system needs amino acids and minerals for a proper functioning system and when poor blood flow impacts it, symptoms manifest in the immune system and the healing process takes longer.

Chest pressure
Poor circulation can cause a feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest (angina), due to limited oxygen-rich blood reaching the heart.

Impaired brain function
Our brain relies on optimal blood circulation for proper functioning. Poor memory and lack of concentration can also be signs of decreased blood flow to the brain.

Cold hands and feet
Normal body temperature depends on a consistent supply of blood for regulation. Our extremities, including fingers and toes, are affected if they do not receive heat through proper blood circulation.

Skin discolouration
With poor circulation lips and feet can turn blue or purple in colour as the oxygenated blood supply becomes weak.

Hair loss
Since the circulation of blood carries nutrients to required parts of the body, limited blood supply can cause hair to become brittle and fall out. The same is true for nails.

Swollen extremities
If the kidneys cannot maintain proper fluid levels due to poor circulation, the hands and feet become swollen. Severe swelling can cause leg ulcers.

Varicose veins
Poor circulation may cause the veins to become visible near the skin surface due to a buildup of pressure leading to varicose veins, which can be accompanied by pain or itchiness.


The best treatment is prevention. One single approach to prevent many of the above risks and symptoms is to get up and get moving.



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