What are the risk factors for venous disease?

Venous disease occurs when veins beVenous disease and varicose veinscome 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 to help manage your risk. While you should discuss specific strategies with your physician, there are some general guidelines to follow to help with prevention. It is important to maintain a healthy body weight, and to refrain from smoking. It is also vital to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Exercise is key, as well as avoiding standing or sitting in one place for a long time – get up and move as much as you can.

If you are already having problems, many patients have success wearing compression stockings may help to increase blood flow6. However, stockings are simply a temporary solution, and you will likely want to consider more permanent solutions.

In summary, there are several different risk factors associated with venous disease. If you have one or more of them, take all of the preventative measures you can to mitigate your risk. Anyone experiencing symptoms of a venous disease should see their physician as soon as possible to correctly diagnose and treat the ailment.

References:

1 – Venous Insuffiency. Cleveland Clinic. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/disorders/hic_Venous_Insufficiency . Accessed on September 11, 2015.

2 – Dr Deepak Sudheendra. Venous insuffiency. US National Library of Medicine, updated 2014 May 27.

3 – Dr John Heit, et al. Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism. Arch Internal Med, 2000 March 27: 809-815.

4 – Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis/basics/definition/con-20031922 . Accessed on September 16, 2015.

5 – Chronic Venous Insufficiency. The University of Chicago Medicine. Available at: http://www.uchospitals.edu/online-library/content=P08250 . Accessed on September 11, 2015.

6 – Dr Susan R Kahn, MDcorrespondenceemail, Stan Shapiro, PhD, Philip S Wells, Compression stockings to prevent post-thrombotic syndrome: a randomised placebo-controlled trial Volume 383, No. 9920, p880–888, 8 March 2014

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