Leg edema refers to swelling in one or both legs that’s caused by excess accumulation of fluid. The fluid may come from the lymph system, tiny blood vessels that are leaking, or simply from water retention, but edema is not related to inflammation.
Painless leg edema commonly occurs as people get older, in those who are overweight, and after sitting or standing for a long time. Leg edema can develop when you retain water after eating too much salt, it's also common during pregnancy. Some medications may lead to leg edema, including steroids, estrogen, and medications that lower blood pressure.
Leg edema can also signal serious health problems because it can be caused by:
Edema in your legs can be a sign of heart failure, which occurs when your heart doesn’t pump enough blood throughout the body. Heart failure can cause leg edema two ways. As the heart doesn’t work properly, blood in veins backs up and fluid builds up in tissues. Additionally, the kidneys may not be able to eliminate enough salt and water, so the body retains fluids.
Leg edema is one of the top seven signs of heart failure. It’s vital to get medical attention as soon as possible for heart failure, so please don’t hesitate to call Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology for a complete heart evaluation if you have any of these symptoms:
The most important step is to determine the cause of leg edema. Your doctor at Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology will review your medical history, perform a thorough physical exam, and order blood tests. If concerns about your heart or blood vessels arise during the examination, our comprehensive services include many diagnostic tests here in the office; such as electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, ultrasounds, and vascular studies.
If you have an underlying health concern, whether a problem with your heart, blood vessels, liver, kidney, or another condition, it must be properly treated. Depending on the outcome of your physical exam and testing, the doctor may order medications to relieve edema, prescribe compression stockings, and talk with you about lifestyle changes such as eating less salt, losing weight, and staying active.