What are the risk factors for venous disease?

Venous disease occurs when veins become damaged or abnormal due to impairment to the flow of blood1. Common forms and symptoms of venous diseases are varicose veins, spider veins, leg swelling, or leg pain. Venous disease can also cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also known as a blood clot. Venous disease is typically a long-term condition, not one that comes on suddenly without warning. Risk factors There are many different risk factors for venous diseases. Among them are older age, a family history of the condition, obesity, pregnancy, as well as sitting or standing for long periods of time in a state of inactivity2. Women are more likely to suffer from venous disease, which may be related to levels of progesterone2. Additionally, smoking can be a risk factor, as well as having cancer. While many people do not suffer from recurring symptoms and blood clotting after initial successful treatment, that is not always the case. Some studies suggest that patients that have had previous superficial vein thrombosis (a type of blood clot) are four times more likely to develop DVT or have a pulmonary embolism (PE)3. Symptoms of venous disease are numerous, and are usually related to your legs, as that is the most common area for venous disease to develop4. In terms of painful symptoms, your legs may have a dull aching or cramping, which gets worse when standing and feels better when the legs are elevated. From a superficial standpoint, you may develop varicose veins or ulcers on the legs5. Your legs may also feel abnormally warm to the touch. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially in conjunction with the common risk factors, it is important to see your doctor immediately for a correct diagnosis. Prevention of venous disease If one or more of the risk factors is relevant to you, leaving you concerned about venous disease, there are several things you can do... Read more

How Do I Know If I Have A Blood Clot?

There are different types of blood clots (also called “thrombus” or “thrombi,”) which have different signs and symptoms. A blood clot will be classified as either Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolism (PE), depending on the nature of the clot. The specific symptoms will often depend on whether the blood vessel is completely or partially blocked, as well as the location of the clot1. As the symptoms of each sort of clot are quite different, it is helpful to look at each type separately. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) DVT occurs when a blood clot is formed in a deep vein in the body. This usually materializes in the legs and groin area, though it can sometimes affect your arm. One of the first signs that will manifest is pain or tenderness, coupled with swelling of the impacted area. This pain will often be accompanied by reddish or bluish skin discoloration, along with the tender area being unusually warm to the touch. Many times these symptoms are described as being similar in pain to a pulled muscle or Charley horse2, but with the pain accompanied by swelling, discoloration, and warmth. If you are experiencing any or all of these conditions, you should contact a doctor. However, about half of all DVT cases are asymptomatic3, so you could still be suffering from DVT even if you are not displaying these signs. In many cases, deep vein thrombosis is just a one-time episode, meaning that symptoms will go away when the disease is treated. However, individuals who have experienced DVT at least once are at an increased risk of further episodes throughout their life4. Pulmonary Embolism (PE) The most serious complication of DVT is called Pulmonary Embolism, which is responsible for anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 deaths each year5. It is the third most common cause of cardiovascular death, only trailing heart attacks and strokes6. The complication of PE happens in... Read more

What is the Difference Between Venous Disease and Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and venous disease are two very distinct disease states with different causes, symptoms and care pathways. Depending on the patients’ conditions, there may be some similarities in the treatment of the two diseases. Conditions and Causes Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, is a condition where the muscles of the legs suffer from a restricted blood supply[1]. PAD is caused by plaque; fatty materials and cholesterol that build up inside the arteries. This plaque will begin to narrow and block the arteries, restricting the flow of oxygen and other nutrients to the lower limbs. PAD can also be called peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, and is a common form of cardiovascular disease[1]. People are more at risk of PAD as they age. It is believed that there are over 8 million PAD sufferers in the US alone and millions more around the world. It is more common in men than women and in people over the age of 50. Hispanics and African Americans are also particularly at risk. Contributing factors include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Venous disease is a condition that, generally, affects the veins in the lower extremities[2]. It arises from two conditions, venous reflux and/or obstruction. Reflux is when the walls of the veins in the legs deteriorate and the small valves that allow blood to return to the heart become defective. Obstruction, commonly referred to as Venous Outflow Obstruction, is when the blood flow in the vein becomes restricted or blocked. A blood clot, resulting from an injury or surgery, may be responsible for blockage. Other factors contributing to reflux and obstruction include hormones, pregnancy, excess weight, smoking or sitting or standing for too long. Both of these conditions allow blood to pool, and this may create additional pressure in the veins, leading to further damage and healthcare problems for the patient. Symptoms Many PAD sufferers have no symptoms... Read more

What are Varicose Veins and are they Dangerous?

Varicose veins are swollen and twisted veins that are highly noticeable beneath the skin1. In most cases, they have a blue or purplish color to them. Varicose veins can affect any part of the body, but they most commonly affect the leg and feet area1. Though the body’s system of veins is complex, the simple function of them is simply to return deoxygenated blood from the organs of the body back to the heart and lungs2. Understanding Varicose Veins In most cases, veins perform as expected; but just like anything else, they can become diseased and damaged. Varicose veins are a direct effect of damaged valves and/or blocked veins1. As mentioned earlier, veins carry blood back to the heart2. They achieve this through the function of a series of one-way valves1. As these valves begin to weaken and fail, the direct result is a backward flow of blood. The veins may also become blocked or occluded, restricting the flow of blood back to the heart. This backward flow and/or blockage causes an increase in the pressure in the veins (venous hypertension). This increased blood pressure results in the bulging or swelling of the veins in this area, and since the blood is deoxygenated, the veins have a bluish or purplish color. There are many theories behind what actually causes the onset of varicose veins. Oftentimes, it happens as people age and, just as other functions and systems of the body begin to weaken, so does the function of the venous valves and elasticity in the veins. However, other factors such as pregnancy, genetics and even smoking and obesity can play a part behind the cause of varicose veins1. Dangers and Treatment Options For most people, besides being self-conscious about the appearance of the varicose veins, they will have no additional symptoms or consequences to their health3. However, others may not be as lucky, and because there are dangerous complications... Read more

What is Iliac Vein Compression Syndrome?

Iliac Vein Compression Syndrome, also called May-Thurner Syndrome, is a natural condition that arises when the left common iliac vein is compressed between the right common iliac artery and the spine1. This leads to symptoms ranging from mild to serious, including leg pain, swelling, discoloration and iliofemoral vein DVT (deep vein thrombosis). While the syndrome represents less than 5 percent of the currently diagnosed venous disorders, increased awareness and better diagnostic options are resulting in its more frequent identification as an underlying factor in venous disease. It is characteristically more common in women than men, and usually between the ages of 20 and 50 years old. Diagnosis The best way to identify the disorder is through intravascular ultrasound, but other tests, such as venous and interstitial pressure measurement, duplex ultrasound, venography and plethysmography, can aid in diagnosis2. These diagnostic tests of the deep pelvic veins help physicians identify iliac vein compression syndrome. Patients that present with leg pain, swelling or discoloration should be tested, as well as those with varicose veins. If iliac vein compression syndrome underlies varicose veins, it should be treated first. Patients that have blood clots in the leg, or a history of such, should be tested for iliac vein compression syndrome. Proper diagnosis of this syndrome is important in helping physicians and patients selecting treatment options and preventing further, more debilitating, complications of venous disease. Treatment Some cases of iliac vein compression syndrome may require treatment, which will vary depending on the nature and severity of the patient’s symptoms. Treatments for minor cases include anti-clotting medication (anticoagulation) and compression therapy, such as compression stockings. If blood clots are present, thrombolytic therapy, which is the use of drugs to dissolve blood clots, may be necessary. In cases where the compression of the vein is serious, balloon angioplasty and stenting of the vein may be required3. In all cases, if you suffer any of the symptoms discussed,... Read more
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