Yoga: More Than Stretching

Yoga is a discipline and a lifestyle to many around the globe. For us, doing yoga can provide physical and mental benefits. Yoga is a more involved form of stretching and deep breathing to help circulation and promote vascular health.

It is easy to overlook how the mind can affect the physical body. When under stress, common physical symptoms may include, but are not limited to: muscle tension, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and even low energy. Yoga is special because it brings together physical activity, breathing, and meditation.

Because yoga is less strenuous than other kinds of exercise, it is easier to adapt to, and serves a greater audience. Doing a variety of yoga positions stretches and works our muscles. The deep breathing involved with yoga can help lower blood pressure and circulate more oxygen to the body. These activities may help prevent heart disease, and can help people with cardiovascular problems.

If stress and anxiety is impacting your mental health, mind-soothing meditation, a key part of yoga, quiets the nervous system and eases stress. Yoga appears to influence stress response systems. Because of this, yoga decreases physiological arousal, which ties into vascular health. This includes benefits such as reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga can help increase heart rate variability, the ability to adapt to stress-induced situations.

Yoga is a great method of staying mentally and physically positive. While it may sound intimidating, many classes are designed for beginners. Like any other form of exercise Yoga helps regardless of your skill level! Anyone can pick it up and begin to see the benefits of yoga.

Q&A with Dr. Kaelin

Tell us a little about yourself and what your primary focus at VSA is.

Dr. Kaelin:  Vascular Surgery Associates was started specifically for the care and treatment of peripheral vascular issues.  Peripheral vascular means all the blood vessels except the heart and the brain.  This is important because this is our focus just as there are specialties that focus on the heart.  Our specialty includes specific training and board certification for arterial and venous issues.  Our primary focus is on the identification and management of these issues.  Most of the problems we manage do not require surgical or even minimally invasive procedures.  They can be managed medically and in conjunction with the primary care physician.  When specific intervention is required most people can have an outpatient minimally invasive procedure.


What sets VSA apart?

Dr. Kaelin:  We have board certified providers, specific vascular trained ARNP’s and PA.  We have an efficient office staff with inhouse non-invasive and inhouse interventional suite, so most things can be done right in the office.


Why did you decide to specialize in vascular surgery?

Dr. Kaelin: The ability to dramatically affect a patient’s quality of life by the management of their vascular health is very rewarding.


How has technology changed vascular surgery?

Dr. Kaelin:  It has changed the treatment of vascular issues that require intervention from 90% surgical to 90% minimally invasive.


Since you’ve been in the field, what developments or breakthroughs have occurred?

Dr. Kaelin:  Aortic aneurysm stents, peripheral atherectomy devices to reopen lower extremity vessels through a catheter as an outpatient without bypass, significant improvement in imaging and diagnostic tools, and improved medical options.


Why should the average person worry about their vascular health?

Dr. Kaelin:  Poor vascular health can lead to heart attack, stroke, amputation and death.


What simple ways can the average person improve their vascular health?

Dr. Kaelin: Discussion with their primary care physician about risk factors and appropriate screening.


How important is exercise beyond weight loss?

Dr. Kaelin:  Very important as it improves overall vascular health.


How important is diet aside from maintaining a healthy weight?

Dr. Kaelin: Diet depends on medical issues.  There are many types of “diets” and these should be discussed with the primary care physician to make sure the right choices are being made.


Could you share a VSA Success Story with us?

Dr. Kaelin:  A Patient came to the ER with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm that in the past would have required 10-14 days in the hospital and 3-4 months of recovery. We were able to fix it with a minimally invasive procedure, and they went home the next day and back to their usual activities within 2 weeks.


Foods That Could Lower Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension, is a serious health issue that affects many Americans. The pressure of your blood on your artery walls can cause many health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. While many factors contribute to your blood pressure, it’s important to do everything in your control to keep it at healthy level. Exercise and proper diet can help a lot. Here are some foods to consider introducing into your diet or replacing unhealthy options with!

Let’s start with breakfast, a difficult meal for some. Oatmeal is a great option to help lower your blood pressure. It’s high in fiber, and low in fat and sodium. While a bacon, egg, and cheese muffin may sound appetizing, it’s not the best idea when watching your fat and sodium intake. It’s also important to not load your oatmeal up with tons of sugar and butter, as the fiber only goes so far when you’re drowning it in unhealthy additions. Lowfat milk and yogurt are also smart breakfast options!

As a child we are told to “eat our vegetables,” and that goes for adults as well! Leafy greens are high in potassium and other valuable vitamins. Potassium helps your kidneys combat sodium. Lettuce, kale, greens, spinach, they’re all perfect for improving your diet. Eat them raw in a salad, bake kale in the oven for a crunchy snack, or incorporate spinach in whatever meat you’re cooking! Just remember not to douse your salad in tons of dressing, especially not ranch.

Want a healthy main course? Fish is exactly what you’re looking for. High in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, fish like salmon actively combat hypertension while tasting great. There are many different ways to prepare fish, and it goes with just about anything! It’s also easy to cook, which may be a barrier for eating healthy.

And you can’t forget dessert! Fruit is the perfect sweet treat to substitute ice cream or cookies. Berries provide vitamins for a low-calorie cost, while bananas offer high amounts of potassium. But that’s not all; eating dark chocolate can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. It’s rich flavor and hint of sweetness are a great substitute for less-healthy chocolate desserts.

It’s important to remember that eating one or two of these foods does not mean your blood pressure will be decreased! Be mindful of what you shouldn’t eat as well! Combined with exercise and an overall healthy diet, these foods could help lower your blood pressure.

Low-Impact Exercises

Exercise isn’t meant to be easy for anyone, but for some it’s made even harder. Bad joints, excess weight, osteoporosis, the list goes on for why someone might say they can’t run or lift weights. But just because you can’t run doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise! Remember, runners may not be capable of rock climbing, and climbers may not have the ability to play a contact sport like Football. If you’ve ever stopped yourself from working out because of your bad knees or weight, here are some low-impact exercises you should consider doing!

Walking is the easiest work out, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. If you’ve walked around a theme park for a day, you know how tiring walking can be! Running can put a lot of stress on your joints and knees, but walking lacks the quality of running that causes that stress. The difference between running and walking actually isn’t the speed; for a short moment while running both feet leave the ground, while walking is defined by having at least one foot on the ground at all times. This makes a huge difference on the amount of impact because running places all of your weight on the foot you land on, while walking is a smooth transfer of weight from one foot to the other. Power walk around the neighborhood and see how you feel!

Cycling, either on the road or stationary bike, is an excellent work out regardless of your physical limitations. While it can be cost prohibitive if you don’t have a bike, most gyms have stationary bikes. Not only is this an effective form of cardio, it’s also a lot of fun! If you’re interested in cycling there are many resources online to find the right bike for you, and to keep it maintained. More than just a work out for many, cycling could be your new hobby.

Swimming is considered a full-body workout, which means you could make some serious progress if you have access to a pool. Using your arms, legs, and core to stay moving could be the perfect solution for you. It provides a more comprehensive workout than many others while also being probably the lowest impact exercise. It’s the closest we can get to no-impact exercise, as you’re never required to hold your weight up on solid ground. From Olympic athletes to senior citizens swimming keeps your heart pumping fast.

Don’t let excuses get in your way! Consider adding one of these activities to your regular schedule and you’ll be on your way to a healthier life.

Reducing the Risk of Vascular Disease

Reducing the Risk of Vascular Disease


While vascular disease isn’t entirely preventable, there are many ways you can reduce your risk for developing disease. In this blog we will run down some easy ways to improve your health that also directly relate to your vascular health. Some may not apply to you and some may be harder than others, but it’s important to know all of these in order to maintain or improve your health for the future.

Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is the most immediate improvement someone could make with their health. While it doesn’t apply to everyone, and it may be more challenging for some than others, you must know the risks involved with smoking:

  • Accelerated development of atherosclerosis
  • Reduced blood flow
  • Thickening of blood
  • Higher blood pressure

It’s not easy to break the addiction, and it often takes a health scare for some to quit. It’s in your best interest to not let it get that far and to “commit to quit” if you’re really dedicated to improving your health.

Diet and Exercise

For others, diet and exercise may be the hardest improvement but also the most necessary. These are paired together because one without the other is counterproductive. Think of your body as a car that needs fuel; a car runs better when it is driven regularly, but it also needs the right fuel to do so!

Here’s what proper diet and exercise can do for you:

  • Lose excess weight
  • Maintain proper blood sugar levels
  • Better cardiovascular health and endurance
  • A better night’s sleep
  • Improved circulation

Tackling Other Issues

The vascular system runs throughout our bodies, which makes it vulnerable to more than just a few issues. General self care is actually the biggest risk mitigation you can do for your vascular health. Things such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can affect your vascular system. Each of these presents complications and requires a closer look than you may think. When you’re approaching high blood pressure or are at risk for becoming diabetic, take it very seriously. These things have permanent consequences and make caring for your vascular system that much harder. Follow any advice your primary physician gives you to stay at healthy levels.

The staff at Vascular Surgery Associates is dedicated to its patients, but we also urge them to do their part when possible. A healthier lifestyle could result in less visits to the doctor, and more time to do the things you love!

The Father of Interventional Radiology

Vascular surgery as a subspecialty in medicine is actually a fairly new field. While not new enough to be experimental or dangerous, the idea of minimally-invasive procedures to treat vascular diseases goes back less than fifty years. Like other areas of surgery, innovative techniques and methods are constantly being introduced to vascular surgery. The field is a clear example of the strides medical care is still taking.


Charles Theodore Dotter, known as the “Father of Interventional Radiology”, was a US pioneer in angioplasty. The minimally invasive, endovascular procedure widens narrowed or obstructed arteries or veins. A deflated balloon is attached to a catheter and put in place using a guide wire, then inflated to increase blood flow. A stent may be inserted then the balloon is deflated and removed. Dotter used this method in 1964 to treat a woman suffering from a painful leg ischemia and gangrene. The 82 year old patient refused to have her leg amputated, which beyond angioplasty treatment was the only option to save her life. The treatment he provided gave circulation back to the patient’s leg, which remained open until her death a couple years later. Dotter also developed liver biopsy through the jugular vein in 1973.


Enough time and new developments have placed vascular surgery in a category of it’s own; vascular surgeons typically confine their work to just vascular, while general surgeons defer endovascular cases to vascular surgeons. The specialty and separation of the fields means greater development and attention to detail is paid to complicated and unique endovascular cases. In addition to treatment, detailed knowledge of a patient’s vascular health can serve as valuable preventative care. The discoveries of how our body’s vascular system interacts with our body as a whole has led to many new methods of treatment.


Vascular Surgery Associates implements modern technology and methods to diagnose and treat patients. Like the field it specializes in, VSA is at the forefront of medical care.

Who is Vascular Surgery Associates

Vascular Surgery & Associates was founded more than 30 years ago and has built a tradition of bringing together some of the best trained physicians available.  From the founders Drs. Long and Lawhorn to Drs. Kaelin, Hoyne, Brumberg, Massie, and more recently Dr. Smith, only by expanding our team with surgeons specifically fellowship-trained in treating the full spectrum of vascular disease, do we put the care of our patients first and foremost.  By having expertise in each area of vascular care, we are able to treat a wide range of symptoms with both simple medical therapies to more complex operations when needed.

Vascular surgery is a subspecialty in which diseases of the vascular system, which means the arteries, veins and lymphatic circulation can be managed by medical therapy, minimally-invasive procedures and also surgical reconstruction.  What most don’t know is that with our conservative approach, we only operate 20% of the time.  The remaining 80% see patients going through various therapies such as an exercise program or medical management of their cholesterol.  This approach rewards our patients with a successful treatment plan that does not disrupt their daily lives and keeps them out of the operating room.

That said, 20% of the time we do have to increase our treatment level, and that can include surgery.   Even within that small percentage of patients, only 30% are of the more serious variety; 70% of those patients see minimally invasive operations as a treatment, and these are considered outpatient procedures.   Our state of the art, fully functional, non-invasive vascular lab is on-site and allows us to better treat our patients quickly and effectively.  This is a major part of our patient-centric philosophy, to treat each and every patient as we would want our own family members to be treated.  This and many others are the reasons we have been proud to be a part of this community for over 30 years.