Most people probably don’t often think about the circulation in the body or how it affects their health. It’s actually a pretty big deal, as every single cell depends on the vascular system (heart, arteries and veins) to bring oxygen and nutrients, and to take away waste products. That’s why venous disease matters to your health. Here’s a little more on the subject, courtesy of Metro Vein Centers in Houston, Texas.
Venous Disease: Anatomy
Each time your heart beats, it pushes blood through the arteries. Once it gets to the veins, however, the pressure is much less. Muscle contractions in the legs help push blood upward against gravity, while flaps of tissue in each vein called valves close to prevent back flow. If the valves fail or don’t close completely, blood pools in the veins of the legs, resulting in venous disease.
Venous Disease: Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are one of the most common manifestations of venous disease. They are more common in older people and those who spend long hours on their feet, although heredity also plays a role. Varicose veins always involve vein valve failure; a vein with varicosities becomes distended and tortuous and is clearly visible if it lies just under the skin. Smaller varicose veins (spider veins) may also occur in areas like the face.
Venous Disease: Blood Clots
Although blood clots can develop anywhere in the circulatory system, they are most common in the lower extremities and deep veins of the pelvis. People who are inactive are at higher risk. Blood clots can also develop during long surgical operations. A blood clot might not cause a problem unless it breaks loose and travels to the lungs. If it does, it may block an artery and cause a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism. Minor blood clots, however, may not even need treatment.
Venous Disease: Venous Insufficiency
Venous insufficiency is usually an indication of heart failure. Rheumatic fever or a heart attack can weaken the heart muscle, so the entire circulatory system is affected. Blood can pool in the veins, especially in the legs, even when the valves are in good working order and you don’t have varicose veins. This condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency. In some cases, leg ulcers may develop and there is a risk of infection.
Venous Disease: Treatment
Treatment strategies for venous disease depend on the individual situation. Compression stockings can help prevent swelling in the legs and may decrease symptoms of varicose veins. Varicose veins can also be treated with minimally invasive procedures like sclerotherapy or laser therapy. Venous insufficiency is usually managed medically, and much of the attention is on ways to improve the heart’s ability to pump blood. Medications called anticoagulants are used for blood clots.
Treatment of venous disease is the province of vein specialist like the doctors at Metro Vein Center. We offer a wide variety of treatment strategies to Houston residents. Please contact us for an assessment.