Vein disease affects your circulatory system and can interfere with the way your veins carry blood from different parts of your body back to your heart.

Your risk for vein disease, also known as venous disease, increases as you age. One in three people over the age of 45 in the United States have some form of disease affecting the veins, according to the American Venous Forum.

Veins play an important role in your body. Your arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to various parts of your body. The cells of your body use the oxygen and other nutrients in your blood as fuel, and create toxic byproducts in the process. The blood in your veins carries this oxygen-poor, toxin-rich blood back up to your heart.

Gravity helps arteries move blood downwards from your heart to your feet but it works against the veins as they carry blood upwards. Several stop-valves prevent blood from flowing backwards and pooling in your feet by trapping blood in the veins between heartbeats. The elastic walls of the veins also help push blood upwards against the flow of gravity.

Vein disease often occurs when valve failure allows blood to flow backwards into your lower legs. Accumulating blood fills your veins somewhat like an overfull balloon, creating varicose veins. Bloated veins lose their elasticity and increasingly fail to move blood upwards.

Venous disease affects the tissues served by the faulty vein. Bloated veins cannot take on freshly oxygenated blood, so tissues do not get the oxygen and nutrients they need. Furthermore, bloated veins do not carry away toxic byproducts. Without essential oxygen and nutrients, and burdened with a toxic environment, tissues can begin to break down.

Types of Vein Disease

Some of vein diseases are acute, meaning they are severe and sudden in onset, while others are long-term chronic problems.

Acute vein problems include deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. DVT occurs when a blood clot blocks a large vein, usually in the lower leg, thigh or pelvis. Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot breaks off and moves through the veins to the lungs. Both DVT and pulmonary embolism are serious health emergencies.

Chronic vein disease (CVD) is a group of other long-term conditions relating to diseased or abnormal veins.

CVD includes:

  • Varicose veins
  • Spider veins
  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Leg swelling and pain
  • Leg skin changes, including ulcers

Varicose veins are those thick, twisted, blue blood vessels appearing on the back of your legs. Varicose veins are diseased in that they do not carry blood from your feet back up to your heart. Spider veins, which usually appear around your ankles but can show up anywhere, also do a poor job of carrying blood.

Fortunately, spider vein and varicose vein treatment effectively reduce the appearance of those unappealing veins already existing on your legs. Houston vein doctors perform a variety of procedures that treat or eliminate diseased veins. Many of the therapies for vein disease are outpatient procedures done at your local Houston vein clinic.