Spider veins, varicose veins and venous insufficiency are health problems that are both common and commonly misunderstood. An overview of the function of healthy blood vessels can make it clear why changes in vein structure can lead to important consequences for overall health and wellness.
Understanding healthy blood flow
After traveling away from the heart through a network of thick-walled muscular arteries, blood is returned to the heart through a series of thin veins. While the pumping action of the heart and the pressure maintained within the circulatory system help maintain healthy blood flow, several other factors also contribute to the return of venous blood toward the heart.
Small valves inside of veins help keep blood flowing in only one direction. This is of particular importance for venous flow as the movement of blood through the veins is largely against gravity. The return of blood toward the heart is also assisted by movement of the legs’ large muscles, which gently encourage the movement of blood from the feet toward the head.
Understanding venous insufficiency
Although several mechanisms assist venous blood flow, sufficient damage to one or all regulators of venous flow can result in a condition known as venous insufficiency. This pooling of the blood in the legs and feet can include signs and symptoms such as pain, swelling and the appearance of varicose veins and leg ulcers.
Venous insufficiency is more likely to occur in connection with certain health conditions such as pregnancy, obesity and deep vein thrombosis. Other factors such as smoking, lack of exercise and prolonged periods of sitting or standing also increase the risk of venous insufficiency.
The consequences of venous insufficiency
Patients often choose to treat venous insufficiency in order to alleviate unpleasant symptoms and regain a more appealing appearance of the feet and legs. If these factors are not motivation enough to seek treatment, the secondary health effects of venous insufficiency should also be considered important reasons to treat the condition.
Stagnation of the blood around the feet and ankles creates excess pressure on the vessels and soft tissues in these areas, which can lead to a breakdown in the integrity of the skin. This is leads to the formation of ulcers, which create a risk for serious infections. The pressure of pooled blood can also hinder the movement of joints and thereby prevent normal motility.
While informative, this article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Therefore, be sure to see a healthcare provider if you have a concern regarding the symptoms and diagnoses discussed in this article.
Dr. Amish Tilara is a specialist in the treatment of diseases affecting the blood vessels, including venous insufficiency. Serving the Atlanta metro area and communities of Lawrenceville, Duluth, Dacula, Buford, Grayson, Lilburn, Norcross, Snellville and Suwanee, Dr. Amish Tilara is your neighborhood vein specialist. Find out today how Dr. Amish Tilara and the Atlanta Vascular and Vein Center can get your blood flowing again.
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