Did you know vein disease affects about half of people over the age of 50?
By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
Last week, I wrote about venous disease, specifically deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. I’m especially passionate about venous disease – it is the reason VeinInnovations exists, after all! Venous disease is underdiagnosed, which is a shame because it is so easily treatable and the results from treatment are impressive, providing almost instant relief. So this week, I’d like to discuss another venous disease, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI.)
Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition that occurs when veins in the leg struggle to send blood back to the heart. In healthy veins, blood is only able to travel in one direction, towards the heart. In an unhealthy vein, faulty valves allow blood to flow backwards. This can cause blood to pool in the legs. Without treatment, CVI can cause pain, swelling, restlessness, and host of other uncomfortable symptoms.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency Risk Factors
- Age. The older you are, the higher your
- Tall height
- A family history of venous disease, including deep vein thrombosis
- Past trauma to the leg from previous blood clots, surgery, or injury
- Being female
- Lack of exercise
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time
The first five risk factors are, unfortunately, out of our hands. But the remaining five risk factors are within our control! I hate to beat a dead horse – I feel like I repeat this advice all the time – but if you’re a smoker, stop right now. This instant. Smoking increases your risk factor for a litany of health problems. There’s no reason not to quit.
If you fall into the “lack of exercise” risk group, you’re at risk for the “obesity” group as well. Kill two birds with one stone and start exercising. Even moderate exercise, such as a daily walk around the park, can lower your risk for a seemingly endless list of diseases.
The modern office and home habits of watching hours of television or game playing are to blame for an increase in the amount of time we spend sitting. Sitting has been called the new smoking for good reason. Though we’re meant to move about during the day, you might not want to go as far as installing a standing desk, because standing for too long has bad effects as well. They key is to mix things up. If you sit most of the day, keep a timer at your desk. Every 30 to 45 minutes, stand up, stretch out and do a loop around the office. If you stand for the majority of the day, try to take a break every hour and rest.
Finally, we come to pregnancy. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases by 25 to 40 percent. The extra blood is necessary to support two bodies, but does put extra pressure on your blood vessels. As the uterus enlarges to accommodate the growing baby, it puts pressure on blood vessels in the pelvis. To learn more, read my earlier article about pregnancy and varicose veins.
CVI is the culprit behind a slew of unpleasant symptoms, including troublesome and unsightly varicose veins. CVI and varicose veins can cause symptoms of restless leg syndrome (RLS), which may impact your ability to sleep. The pain of varicose and spider veins prevent some people from exercising. For this reason, CVI can become a quality of life issue, as ones quality of life is diminished by an inability to rest and exercise. Other common symptoms include:
- Swelling of the legs
- Itching and tingling in the legs
- Painful tightness in the calves
- Pain during walking that subsides with rest
- Skin color changes, especially near the ankles
- Venous stasis ulcers, which are difficult to treat and heal.
Luckily, there are a number of fairly simple treatments for CVI. Some of them you can do on your own. Lose weight if you are overweight. Tend leg and foot wounds conscientiously, or seek treatment, if you have an open sore or infection.. Don’t sit or stand for long periods. If your legs swell, wearing compression stockings will help – for as long as you wear the stockings.
There are, of course, a number of minimally-invasive, virtually painless treatments that provide relief. When medically indicated, most treatments are covered by insurance. These office-based treatments include sclerotherapy, EVLA, Venefit, and laser treatment. For in-depth information on treatments, I will direct you to the VeinInnovations website!