What Causes Vein Disease? Top Risk Factors You Need To Know
When valves in the veins weaken, it becomes difficult to send blood from our limbs back to our heart. When this occurs, some of the blood flows backward, and pools in the veins of the leg, a condition known as venous insufficiency.
Dr. Samir Damani
October 19, 2023
Age, genetics, obesity, pregnancy, and prolonged sitting or standing are common risk factors for vein disease.
Early detection and prevention are crucial for maintaining healthy veins.
What is venous insufficiency?
Our veins and arteries are responsible for carrying and distributing blood from our heart and throughout our entire body. Veins will return the blood back to the heart for oxygenation. Individual one-way valves in our veins, function to push our blood in one direction towards the heart, preventing the back-flow of blood.
Healthy veins allow for a continuous flow of blood from the limbs to the heart
When these valves weaken, it becomes difficult to send blood from our limbs back to our heart. When this occurs, some of the blood flows backward, and pools in the veins of the leg, a condition known as venous insufficiency.
What causes venous insufficiency?
The leading causes of venous insufficiency are varicose veins and blood clots, such as Deep Vein Thrombosis.
In the case of varicose veins, the one-way valves do not work correctly, are weakened, or may be missing, allowing blood to flow back through the damaged valves. When this occurs, blood will pool in the vein, increasing pressure inside the vein and leading to congestion that causes the vein to bulge and twist.
Excessive pressure on the legs can lead to the development of varicose veins, as in the case of pregnancy, obesity, and standing or sitting for extended periods.
Blood clots occur when blood flow is obstructed, causing blood to build up inside the vein and form a clot. A blood clot is a clump of blood that has turned into a solid state.
How to prevent blood clots and improve blood flow in the legs?
Luckily, there are many things you can do to help improve the circulation of blood in your legs.
Exercise regularly to get the blood pumping and moving
Do not cross your legs when sitting
Wear compression stockings
Elevate your legs when possible
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
DVT is a dangerous condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside your body. These types of vein clots usually form deep in your thigh or the lower in the leg.
Symptoms of DVT
It’s important to note that symptoms only appear in 50% of people who have DVT. If you notice any of the symptoms below, it is critical that you contact your doctor immediately:
Swelling in your foot, ankle or leg (typically only on one side)
Cramping that begins in the calf
Sudden, extreme pain in the foot or ankle
Skin that feels warm to the touch
Skin that turns pale, reddish or blue
Sadly, some people do not realize that they have DVT until they’ve suffered a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that has detached from deep inside the body and traveled to the lungs.
When a lung artery is blocked, it is a life-threatening situation that required immediate, emergency attention.
Venous Insufficiency may not always cause pain, so it is important to keep an eye on any new developments such as veins that are bulging, dark blue or purple.
Also, take note if the veins look ropey, twisted, bulging or cord-like in your legs.
Swelling (edema) of the ankles and legs
Aching, throbbing, or itching in the legs
A sensation of heaviness or fatigue in the legs
Pain that gets worse when you stand but improves when you elevate your legs
Skin discoloration or thickening of the skin around ankles and legs
Tightness in the calves
Leg ulcers or sores that will not heal
How to prevent venous insufficiency?
Unfortunately, should you have a family history of vein disease, you may not be able to prevent it entirely; however, there are lifestyle changes and steps you can take to help lessen the chance of developing the condition or the severity.
Avoid sitting or standing for extended periods
Do not smoke
Get exercise regularly
Maintain a healthy weight and diet
Avoid high heels and tight clothing around the waist and pelvis
If you are concerned about your vein health or have any risk factors associated with vein disease, contact iThriveVeins for a free vein screening. Early detection can make a significant difference in preventing complications and maintaining healthy veins.
The bottom line
Vein disease can be caused by a combination of factors, and understanding the risks is crucial for maintaining optimal vein health. By taking proactive measures and seeking professional guidance, you can protect yourself from the potential complications of vein disease.
Free vein screening
If you are suffering with strange and unusual symptoms such as burning, itchy, or heavy legs, we might be able to help you.