What are compression stockings?

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Compression stockings are available in four different pressure classes. The higher the compression value, the higher the pressure becomes. With a preventative goal, one should wear a Class 1 compression stocking. For mild symptoms, a Class 2 stocking provides a better solution. If you experience severe symptoms, it is wise to ask your doctor for advice. He or she will recommend you a Class 3 or Class 4 compression stocking.

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Why are compression stockings important for blood circulation?

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Standing or sitting still for long periods can have negative consequences for your legs, because the back flow of blood to the heart is restricted by a reduced effect of the calf muscles. Using the calf muscles is one of the most effective methods to get the blood flowing towards the heart: the calf muscles are automatically activated as you walk, jog or cycle. The alternation between flexing the calf muscles and relax promotes the pump function and ensures that the blood flows towards the heart. Besides the calf muscles, the veins in the legs are equipped with non-return valves that prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. Movement of the calf muscle is responsible for squeezing the veins in the legs. This helps to push the blood in the veins of the leg, against the force of gravity, back towards the heart. When a person is immobile for a longer time, such as prolonged bed rest, with occupations associated with prolonged sitting or standing, or traveling long hours by plane, train, bus or car, this pumping action of the calf muscles is reduced. The blood circulation is decreased and will not work as efficiently as when a person is active. This can contribute to fluid retention and swelling. In a worst case, the risk on blood clots is increased. In the medical world this phenomenon is known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. This risk is increased if an individual has existing diseases of the veins, such as defective vein valves or venous wall abnormalities. Blood clots in the veins can be dangerous because when they break they can get into the lungs. This is known as a pulmonary embolism, which requires immediate medical treatment.

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What do compression stockings do for the blood circulation?

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Compression stockings with graduated compression are designed to prevent the negative effects of prolonged sitting or standing. Due to the strong downward force of gravity, the bloodcirculation needs all the help it can get. Normally this is achieved in a natural way by the contraction of the calf muscles when we are active and moving. If we cannot move, the graduated compression stockings help to give a boost, pushing the blood into the legs back to the heart. The principle of graduated compression is composed of the solid compression of the leg with the highest compression at the ankle. From there, the applied pressure is reduced gradually until it eventually performs the lowest compression on the upper leg. This graduated compression prevents and/or reduces fluid accumulation and swelling in the feet and ankles and provide the legs with new energy.

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