The vascular system has several parts to it. The arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all extremities. Blood flows unobstructed through these vessels and is aided by the natural force of gravity. The veins are different. These vessels carry blood from the extremities and areas away from the heart back to the heart, where it can be oxygenated once again. The veins must work against the force of gravity to move blood upward. They are aided by one-way valves that close after blood has moved through them. This closure prevents blood from leaking back downward (venous reflux). Vein disease is the chronic condition in which the valves in some veins do not work. In these veins, blood flows in two directions rather than just one.
Chronic Venous Disease can describe a number of conditions in which some veins are abnormal. Some of the problems attributed to this broader term include:
- Spider veins and varicose veins
- Leg swelling and aching or pain
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Discoloration of the skin around an affected vein
- Restless leg syndrome
- Leg cramps
- Leg ulcers
- Vascular Malformations
So what causes these problems? Multiple factors. There is no singular cause of all chronic vein disease. Some people have inherited factors, some have hormonal factors, and some have additional factors.
- Inherited factors include genetics and a predisposition based on having a family history of vein disease. Vein problems primarily affect women (more on that in a moment), and if a person has one parent with varicose veins or other vein conditions, they have a 33% chance of developing vein disease. That chance increases to over 90% if both parents have vein disease.
- Chronic vein disease also has a link to hormones, primarily progesterone. This hormone increases during pregnancy to relax the muscles and connective tissue in preparation for childbirth. It isn’t only during pregnancy that a woman’s body produces progesterone, it is during her monthly cycle. According to research, nearly 75% of vein disease problems affect women.
Additional factors that can contribute to the onset of chronic vein disease include:
- Advanced age
- Prolonged sitting with legs crossed
- Prolonged standing
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Injury to the legs
- Increased abdominal pressure, which could be caused by fluid, liver disease, groin surgery, or heart failure
Because some of the risk factors for chronic vein disease are unavoidable, it is beneficial to reduce what risks you can. When needed, our experienced team can plan vein treatment to reduce the symptoms of vein disease. To explore our treatment options, contact us at 703-763-5224 and schedule a visit in our Fredericksburg, Woodbridge, or Fairfax, VA office.