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Treating problem veins – tips for relief

Veins play a critical role in keeping the blood pumping throughout the body — so when veins are compromised, it can affect one’s overall health and well-being.

Vein or venous (pronounced vee-nus) disease is defined as the impairment of blood flow towards your heart; it can occur if the valves in the veins become damaged and allow the backward flow of blood in the legs.

This pooling of blood can lead to a feeling of heaviness and can cause “spider veins,” swollen ankles, and/or legs that feel better in the morning, worse in the afternoon.
When people encounter any of the symptoms of venous disease, they should be considered early stage symptoms of a serious medical disorder. Left untreated, it can lead to leg pain, swelling, and serious health problems.
Advances in vein treatment
Venous disease is one of the most common health conditions in the United States. Many people have visible varicose veins, while others have no visible signs of the disease. It can affect men and women of all ages and activity levels, and while it has a strong genetic component (in other words, it runs in the family), venous disease can be aggravated by environmental risks, pregnancy, and other factors.
For years, patients suffering from varicose veins and related issues had few options for treatment, including vein stripping or compression stockings.
Today, modern procedures, such as endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) or sclerotherapy, are outpatient procedures, minimally invasive, virtually pain free, with very little recovery time. Treatment can help manage venous disease by eliminating pain and improving appearance and overall health, but there are also things one can do even before seeing a doctor.

Tips for relief
Doing one or more of these things may alleviate discomfort and help prevent the progression of venous symptoms:

• Walk. Walking causes the rhythmic contraction of calf muscles and helps promote blood flow to the heart. Walk at least 30 minutes every day — all at once, or in shorter increments.

• Elevate. Elevating your legs above your heart as often as possible — for as long as 30 minutes, or as briefly as three minutes at a time.

• Don’t smoke. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke constricts veins and affects overall circulation.

• See a qualified, board-certified phlebologist for a screening and evaluation.

Because of its progressive nature, treating vein disease is never simply cosmetic — and for most people, even debilitating symptoms are completely treatable. Treatment can stop the progression of the disease and its complications for those in its early stages, and for those struggling with late-stage symptoms, it can restore health and improve quality of life.

By: The Conway Daily Sun

The Dangers Of Leaving Varicose Veins Untreated

Varicose veins are typically seen as unsightly blemishes under the skin. But treating these dilated blood vessels is about more than just appearances. Leaving varicose veins untreated can lead to a variety of serious medical conditions. Most patients with varicose veins report symptoms of itchiness, fatigue, pain and discomfort in the legs, and swelling of the skin. In most cases, these symptoms will only get worse if the patient chooses not to see a medical professional. Individuals that suffer from the condition should take a moment to learn about who to see for varicose veins and the dangers of leaving the condition untreated.

Why It’s Important to Treat Varicose Veins
Every case of varicose veins is different. While some patients will see their symptoms worsen, others could be at risk of coming down with a range of more serious, potentially life-threatening conditions.

• Hyperpigmentation
If left untreated, varicose veins usually result in excess blood leaking into the tissues of the leg. The patient will experience painful swelling and inflammation as parts of their skin become dark and discolored. This condition is known as hyperpigmentation.

• Lipodermosclerosis
When the tissues of the leg are left inflamed for a long period of time, the tissues become firm and heavy. The patient might feel that their legs are becoming increasingly tender, making it more difficult to move or relax. Lipodermatosclerosis is the term used to define the stiffening or hardening of the leg tissues.

• Venous Leg Ulcer
Varicose veins usually result in a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency or CVI. Over time, CVI can result in what’s known as a venous leg ulcer. This is when an area of the skin breaks down to reveal the flesh underneath. Venous leg ulcers tend to get larger over time, leading to increasing discomfort and irritation in the legs.

• Spontaneous Bleeding
Varicose veins tend to break down the walls of the skin over time. This brings the varicose veins closer to the surface of the skin. In some cases, the slightest scratch or scrape can lead to excess blood loss. While the bleeding is usually painless, patients may experience significant blood loss if the condition goes untreated.

• Superficial Thrombophlebitis
Superficial thrombophlebitis is a condition that involves the inflammation of the veins just beneath the surface of the skin. This results from the weakening of the veins and decreased blood flow. The patient may experience redness of the skin, an increasing tenderness of the vein, as well as ongoing pain or swelling of the legs.

• Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis is the most serious condition related to varicose veins. DVT usually results in what’s known as a pulling sensation in the legs, stemming from a blood clot. The patient may feel as if their nerves are being pinched with increased redness and swelling in the legs. If the blood clot travels further up the body, the condition could be life-threatening.

While varicose veins can range from mild to severe, those that suffer from the condition should contact a board certified vascular surgeon. If neglected, varicose veins can have major implications for the patient’s health.

Who to See For Varicose Veins
Patients with varicose veins should seek a licensed specialist in their area for an initial evaluation. Only aboard certified vascular surgeon will be able to best determine the severity of the case in question and whether or not additional treatment methods are necessary.

How to Fix Varicose Veins
Treating varicose veins all depends on the severity of the condition. In most cases, the damaged vein is removed entirely using a range of different treatment methods such as endovenouslaser ablation, micro-phlebectomy, or sclerotherapy. Most forms of treatment are relatively painless and can be performed in just a few short appointments.

By: William Morrow / Huffington Post

Are varicose veins a warning sign of potentially deadly clots?

Varicose veins may be an early warning sign of potentially deadly blood clots, suggests a study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA.

Enlarged and gnarled varicose veins and deep venous thrombosis, a clot that forms in the deep veins of the body, are strongly associated, the Taiwanese researchers found.
Though they looked at the health records of more than 425,000 adults, the researchers say that even more work is needed to understand whether this relationship is one in which varicose veins directly cause blood clots or whether the two conditions simply have a similar origin.

“The most common question from a varicose vein patient in the vein clinic is: ‘Will varicose vein bring any health risk for me?’ ” said Dr. Shyueluen Chang, first author of the study and a phlebologist and dermatologist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taoyuan, Taiwan.
For this reason, Chang said, learning about potential relationships between “varicose veins and health-threatening diseases is important.”

Varicose veins, usually caused by pregnancy or the effects of age weakening the blood vessels, are common.
In the United States, nearly a quarter (23%) of adults have the condition, which doctors rarely associate with serious health risks.
By contrast, other vascular conditions and diseases — such as deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and peripheral artery disease — are thought to be serious and risky. Pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that occurs in the arteries in the lungs, and peripheral artery disease narrows the arteries leading to the legs, stomach, arms and head. Both can have serious health consequences that may become deadly.

Story highlights

  • More varicose veins patients had deep vein thrombosis than those without gnarled veins
  • Varicose vein patients were also more likely to suffer other types of blood clots

By Susan Scutti, CNN

Click here to view the video

Reason for increased prevalence of chronic vein disorders

Calf Muscle Pump: Its Role, Its Limitations—What to Do? 
By Kenneth J. McLeod, PhD

Reports of chronic venous disorders (CVD) date to biblical times, but beginning with the era of industrialization, CVD has developed into one of the most widespread causes of human disability and discomfort. The breadth of CVD (including lymphatic complications) encompasses spider, reticular and varicose veins, trophic skin changes, leg ulcers, pitting edema, leg pain, joint pain, congestion, skin irritation, and itching, as well as restless legs and muscle cramps.1 Of greater concern, venous stasis can lead to deep vein thrombosis and a greatly increased risk of pulmonary embolism. Epidemiologic studies have shown that more than half of adults in the western world have CVD associated symptoms that are severe enough to reduce their quality of life, with women and the elderly significantly more affected than men.2 Correspondingly, CVD result in substantial medical and economic challenges, with venous insufficiency accounting for more than $3 billion alone in annual direct costs in the U.S

In addition to age and gender, both the duration of daily sitting and standing along with lack of exercise are consistent independent predictors of CVD.4 Postural orthostasis plays a critical role in the development of venous disorders because a principle underlying factor in essentially all venous disorder related conditions is increased venous pressure.5 Despite this, there have been remarkably few interventions developed to prevent venous hypertension. Leg elevation, of course, reduces venous pressure but is generally not viewed as a practical approach for individuals in either the work or home environment. As a result, compression therapy was introduced as a means to reduce systolic pressure peaks and decrease extravasation into the interstitial space. It has, over time, become the gold standard for non-invasive treatment of CVD. Compression interventions include not only stockings, but also multilayer bandage systems, paste bandage systems and pneumatic compressive devices. Compliance with compression stockings and bandaging is typically very poor. While pneumatic compression has historically involved the use of a bulky apparatus, which limited mobility and therefore compliance, new portable technologies are currently under development.

Despite widespread utilization of compression interventions, neither invasive nor non-invasive studies have been able to demonstrate any significant changes in ambulatory venous pressures or venous recovery times resulting from compression therapy.7 This raises the question of the underlying physiologic basis of venous hypertension and what might be the most effective intervention strategies to preclude the numerous health complications associated with CVD.

Venous hypertension is a hydrostatic phenomenon. Three physical factors, relatively unique to humans, influence the development of venous hypertension.8 First, is the location of our heart, which, in upright posture, is sufficiently high in the body with more than 70 percent of the blood in the cardiovascular system remaining below the heart. The large size of our legs (about half our body volume), and the high compliance of human veins, allows most of this blood to collect into the veins of the legs.

Second is the exceptional height of humans, which results in venous columns of blood over one meter in height (distance from feet to right atrium) in even the shortest individuals. Gravity, operating on these fluid columns during orthostasis creates static venous pressures of 100 mmHg or more in the feet and lower legs.

Finally, human skin is extremely compliant; if human skin were stiff (had low compliance) like that in other tall animals (horses, cattle, giraffes, ostrich, etc), high static venous pressures would present minimal difficulties. However, the combination of these three factors means that during orthostasis, the large hydrostatic pressures in the veins and capillaries drive venous and capillary expansion, leading to increased extravasation, and our compliant skin, particular that of women, stretches out, accommodating extensive blood and interstitial fluid pooling to the point where venous return to the heart and cardiac output are compromised.

Further exacerbating this process, both our veins and skin have visco-elastic properties and thus undergo stress-relaxation (often referred to as creep) when exposed to static pressures for extended time periods, leading to additional fluid pooling during extended orthostasis. The rate at which the immediate hydrostatic effects develop is dependent on a number of physiologic and environmental factors. For the initial pooling phase when blood flow is normal, the full hydrostatic effects can take minutes for the veins to fill past the point where the venous valves no longer function; in hot environments, the veins can fill to the point where venous valves become incompetent within several seconds. The slower, stress-relaxation processes occur over a timescale of hours.

Given this hydrostatic basis of venous hypertension, it is clear that compression therapy can serve to reduce effective skin compliance, thereby allowing interstitial pressures to increase, leading to a self-limiting of lower limb blood pooling. However, high interstitial fluid pressures reduce the vascular transmural pressure gradients and physically compress capillaries, resulting in reduced nutritive tissue perfusion.9 Intermittent pneumatic compression can help prevent this loss of nutritive tissue perfusion, but none of the compression approaches address the fundamental physiologic failure leading to the development of venous hypertension.

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