What You Need to Know about Vein Disease

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If you have vein disease, sometimes known as venous disease, you are not alone. One in three people in the United States over the age of 45 have some type of venous disease, according to the American Venous Forum.


About Veins and Venous Disease

The blood vessels in your body play important roles in your health. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the cells of your body, which create byproducts as they use oxygen and other nutrients contained in arterial blood. Veins carry these byproducts away from cells. Every beat of your heart pushes blood along in your arteries and veins.


Arteries have a distinct advantage, as gravity helps arteries carry blood downwards into your feet. Your veins, on the other hand, must fight gravity to move blood upwards and back towards your heart.


One-way valves inside veins prevent blood from moving downwards in between heartbeats. The strong, elastic walls of your veins also help push against the force of blood to keep it flowing in the right direction.


Vein disease occurs when your blood vessels do a poor job of moving blood or when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood. Aging valves sometimes malfunction and allow blood to flow backwards, where it can pool inside veins in the ankles and feet. The excess blood presses against veins from the inside; high pressure causes weak spots in the vein to fill with blood and bulge. Diseased, bulging veins lying near the surface of the skin appear as large, blue, twisted varicose veins.


Types of Vein Diseases

Varicose veins and spider veins are common types of venous diseases resulting from a weakening in blood vessel walls.


Chronic venous insufficiency is a type of venous disease characterized by pooling of blood, chronic leg swelling and increased pressure inside veins. Patients may experience discoloration of the skin or increased pigmentation. Leg ulcers known as venous stasis ulcer, can also develop below the knee and above the ankle. Because poor blood flow prevents tissue in the lower legs from getting the oxygen it needs for healthy skin, these ulcers tend to heal slowly or return often.


Vein doctors also categorize certain types of blood clots as vein diseases. Blood clots can develop in the arms, legs, internal organs, brain, kidneys or lungs. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs in a deep vein. DVT clots can break off, travel through the bloodstream and lodge in a blood vessel in the lung, which can be a life-threatening condition.


Treatment for Venous Disease

A vascular surgeon can evaluate, diagnose and develop a personalized vein treatment program for patients suffering from a venous disease. Vein treatment may include endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), ambulatory phlebectomy, sclerotherapy and transdermal laser treatment.


If you wonder if you have vein disease, make an appointment with your local vein doctor to discuss your options for vein treatment.