Vein Care 101

8 Risk Factors for Venous Insufficiency

January 7, 2022

Here are the Top Risk Factors for Venous Insufficiency that You Need to Know About

Venous Insufficiency, also referred to as Chronic Venous Insufficiency, is a common disorder characterized by poor blood flow in the veins. Understanding the risk factors associated with varicose veins and venous insufficiency can help you not only be safe and healthy, but feel better and look better. Manage your vascular health by understanding the risk factors for venous insufficiency.

How Do Veins Work?

When your veins are healthy, blood pumps through your body normally and your legs look and feel great. When there are problems with the vascular system, however, the veins do not properly push blood back to your heart and this leads to a range of health consequences. Painful, bulging veins, burning or itching sensations, discoloration, and aching/fatigue in the legs are common signs of varicose veins or deeper issues.

Venous Insufficiency and Chronic Venous Insufficiency, Defined

Venous insufficiency occurs when the one-way valves in the veins weaken (pictured below) and circulation slows or comes to a halt.

This poor circulation causes blood to pool up in your lower extremities. With extra fluid where it shouldn’t be, legs become swollen, discolored, and tender. For those suffering from venous insufficiency, there’s an increased risk for a blood clot—a complete blockage of healthy blood traveling up to the heart.

Venous insufficiency symptoms include swollen legs and ankles, bulging veins, varicose and spider veins, sensitivity, cramping, burning, and more.

Because vein issues are so pervasive and often lead to compounded health problems, the term “chronic venous insufficiency,” or CVI, is used. At Metro Vein Centers, we use the terms venous insufficiency and chronic venous insufficiency interchangeably.

Who Suffers from Venous Insufficiency?

According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Epidemiology, it’s estimated that 40% of women and 17% of males suffer from chronic venous insufficiency. Even more people have varicose veins—a common sign of poor vascular health—with up to 80% of adults reporting that they have varicose or spider veins (another symptom of CVI).

Understanding the risk factors associated with varicose veins and venous insufficiency can help you manage your vascular health, and take positive steps towards a healthier life.

Here are 8 risk factors for people who are most likely to develop venous insufficiency.

You’re more likely to develop venous insufficiency if you:

  • are over age 50. As we grow older, the walls of our veins tend to weaken. This prevents them from transporting blood back to the heart efficiently. Vein doctors find that individuals over age 50 are at higher risk for venous insufficiency.
  • spend long periods of sitting, laying down, or standing. People who work in jobs that require lengthy periods of sitting or standing—office workers, factory line workers, baristas, teachers—are at increased risk of varicose veins, and down the road, venous insufficiency. Vein clinic doctors recommend that people change their habits for at least a few minutes each hour: If standing all day, raise your feet above head level; if sitting or laying down all day, get up for a brief walk at least once per hour to keep blood moving effectively.
  • are overweight or obese. Carrying excess weight places more stress on your vascular system, which forces veins to work harder at pumping blood. In turn, your stressed valves are more likely to malfunction, causing blood to pool in the extremities. Vascular surgeons may recommend that you lose weight before or after varicose vein treatment to reduce the risk of future vein problems.
  • have a family history. Genetic risk factors may make you more likely to develop varicose veins. Scientists have uncovered certain genes that are associated with weaker valves, and if you have family members who already suffer from CVI, you have a higher risk of venous insufficiency.
  • are a woman. Women tend to report higher incidences of varicose veins and venous insufficiency. Indeed, women make up a greater percentage of patients at Metro Vein Centers than men. Although the underlying reasons for this aren’t fully clear, hormonal changes—including supplements, replacement therapy, pregnancy, and menopause—can affect the strong walls of the veins. Women should be extra vigilant about signs of venous insufficiency, and should seek out a vein doctor with any concerns.
  • are a smoker. In addition to affecting the lungs and heart, smoking reduces vein health and strength. The weakening of vein walls means smokers have a significantly higher risk of venous insufficiency.
  • are pregnant. Evidence shows that pregnancy—and the additional pressures on the pelvic floor and legs that come with carrying multiple children—is a big factor impacting risks of CVI. Pregnant people often develop varicose veins in the legs and pelvic area due to this inflammation and swelling, and the risk of venous insufficiency rises with each additional pregnancy a woman undergoes.
  • lead an inactive or sedentary lifestyle. We need to maintain a minimum level of movement to keep our bodies healthy and our blood pumping effectively. People with a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop venous insufficiency, even if they maintain a healthy weight. Lack of movement or repetitive strain deeply impacts your chances of developing chronic venous insufficiency.

The Good News: Treatment for Venous Insufficiency Is Available

The best way to treat chronic venous insufficiency is to be proactive, though luckily, there are also several treatment options available for damaged veins. Before you feel pain or notice your legs are painful, discolored, and inflamed, a consultation with a board-certified vein surgeon or vein doctor at one of our Metro Vein Centers offices is highly recommended. This way, we can go over your legs and explain your risk factors before you’re worried or symptoms increase.

If you already suspect you’re suffering from CVI, schedule a consultation at Metro Vein Centers, and we’ll explain the treatment options best for you. These treatments are all minimally invasive, with little downtime.

In addition to preventative lifestyle changes, there are several FDA-approved venous insufficiency treatments, including endovenous laser ablation, radiofrequency ablation, and microphlebectomy, among others.

The Worst Thing for Venous Insufficiency? Doing Nothing at All

The only way to get real answers about venous insufficiency is to see a medical professional who can understand and evaluate your vein health. If you fit into multiple categories in our list above, contact Metro Vein Centers right away.

Understanding your risk factors is the first step towards your healthier body. Call Metro Vein Centers at 888-660-3494 to make your complimentary appointment now, and we’ll answer all your questions about vein health.

We accept over 200 insurance plans, and over 97% of our vein treatments are covered by insurance! We look forward to meeting you!

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