Poor circulation is a common symptom that occurs to those with acute or chronic medical conditions. However, having poor circulation can lead to life-threatening conditions since the flow of blood is very essential for the functioning of each and every organ because it carries oxygen, nutrients and other materials needed by the cells. More often than not, poor circulation is associated with poor blood flow to the extremities; however, when there is reduced blood flow to the peripheral areas of the body, it is also likely that vital organs also receive reduced blood.

Improving the blood flow is an important aim of health promotion activities because of the fact that blood is indispensable for life. To help you achieve adequate perfusion, it is, therefore, essential to determine the different causes of which to effectively prevent poor circulation. Here are the most common causes of poor circulation:

• Constriction of arteries
The arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygenated blood from the heart to the different parts of the body. When the arteries constrict, it often results to poor circulation because of the reduced size of the arterial wall for blood to pass. Constriction is often seen in high blood pressure as well as use of certain medications (nasal decongestants, etc.) that leads to the vasoconstriction of the arteries. Constriction of arteries is also seen in the elderly because of the loss if elastic recoil of the blood vessels. Furthermore, smoking is also a leading cause of constriction because the nicotine component of cigarettes is a potent vasoconstrictor.

• Atherosclerosis
One of the more common causes of poor circulation is the development of cholesterol plaques in the arteries. This is a potentially life-threatening event because it may lead to heart attack and stroke. Atherosclerosis develops when there is an increased cholesterol level in the blood possibly due to poor nutrition.

• Increased blood sugar levels
Increased blood sugar seen in diabetes is also a common cause of poor circulation. When there is increase glucose in the blood, the blood flow becomes more sluggish leading to poor perfusion. Moreover, the sluggish blood flow can speed up atherosclerosis.

• Reduced activity levels
Studies have seen that those who have sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop conditions relating to poor circulation. These may include peripheral vascular diseases, deep vein thrombosis, atherosclerosis and overall constriction of the arteries. Adequate exercise helps the blood vessels to constrict and dilate. When there is a reduced activity level, the blood vessels are not able to dilate effectively leading to reduced perfusion.

• Stress
Stress is another common cause of poor circulation especially to those who don’t have chronic conditions. Stress usually activate the fight and flight response of the body leading to the production of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are natural vasoconstrictors. When you are faced with chronic stress, the blood vessels remain constricted for a particular period causing poor perfusion to the systemic areas of the body.

• Presence of blood clots
Aside from poor circulation and atherosclerosis, the presence of blood clots in the body may lead to poor circulation to specific body parts. For instance, the presence of thrombophlebitis and deep vein thrombosis may lead to reduced blood flow to the legs.

Aside from these common causes, presence of other chronic conditions such as kidney and liver disease can also cause systemic poor circulation. Transient poor circulation to the peripheries may also happen when constrictive clothing is worn.

Regardless of the cause of poor circulation, it should be remembered that the blood is an important aspect in the body so health promotion and disease prevention should be employed to maximize the blood flow in the body.