Turning Blue: Peripheral Cyanosis

Blue Peripheral CyanosisPeripheral Cyanosis is the name of a condition in which the extremities — the hands, fingertips, or feet — turn blue. It is caused by a lack of oxygenated blood to the area.

Sometimes peripheral cyanosis occurs because of such easily remedied issues as tight jewelry or cold temperature. (Hypothermia, however, in which body temperature drops to an extremely low level, is far from trivial. In fact, it is a medical emergency.)

The following 7 medical conditions can cause peripheral cyanosis:

1. Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood effectively. The areas farthest from the heart — the hands and feet — can be the first to be affected by the decreased availability of oxygenated blood. As a result, they may turn blue.

2. Deep Vein Thrombosis

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clot formed in a vein deep in the leg. Since the clot will block blood flow, it can cause the feet to turn blue. DVTs have other, extremely serious potential complications. Someone who suspects a DVT should see a doctor as soon as possible.

3. Raynaud’s Disease

In Raynaud’s disease, blood vessels become narrow, preventing proper blood flow to the extremities. A person with Raynaud’s disease will experience pain, as well as blueness, in their fingers and toes in cold temperatures. When the temperature goes up and blood flow is restored, fingers and toes will flush red.

Raynaud’s disease, while not life-threatening, can cause complications such as finger- and toe-deformity, skin ulcers, and gangrene.

4. Low Blood Pressure

In cases of low blood pressure (hypotension), there may not be enough pressure to push oxygenated blood to the extremities.

5. Lymph System Problems

Lymphatic dysfunction can prevent lymph fluid from flowing and draining properly. This can result in swelling (edema), which can hamper proper blood flow.

6. Vein or Artery Problems

Such issues as venous insufficiency, peripheral vascular disease, or any blockage in the veins or arteries will prevent blood and oxygen from reaching the extremities, causing them to turn blue.

7. Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic shock is a life-threatening condition occurs when a person loses more than one-fifth of their body’s blood or fluid supply. It is typically caused by significant bleeding; however, the loss of body fluids can also decrease blood volume. Severe vomiting or diarrhea, severe burns, and even excessive sweating can cause hypovolemic shock. It is the most common type of shock, mostly affecting the elderly and the very young.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, we provide compassionate, attentive care to all our residents. Noting small changes in their condition is just part of the way we maximize each patient’s function, mobility, and well-being.

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