Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a medical condition involving the veins, usually in the legs. The vein wall, valves or both become weak and fail to effectively move the blood back to the heart and lungs for oxidation. When the blood does not move, it begins to pool in the veins, causing them to bulge and swell. This is called stasis and may result in swelling or varicose veins.
The blood in the legs needs to flow against gravity most of the day. The tiny one-way valves in the veins open to let the blood pass through and then close so it does not have the opportunity to flow backwards. As you walk or do other exercise, the muscles in your calves and feet help push the blood up to the heart. There are several reasons why the valves may become weak and allow the blood to flow backwards.
According to research done by The University of Chicago Medical Center, CVI is most likely to occur in women who are between 40 – 50 years of age and in men between 70 – 80 years of age. There are other risk factors, including:
- Pregnancy and other hormone related conditions such as birth control pills, puberty and menopause
- Obesity which puts pressure on the veins in the legs, making it difficult for the blood to move
- Smoking, which weakens the veins
- Leg injury or surgery
- Inactivity resulting from a sedentary lifestyle
Chronic venous insufficiency may occur before the appearance of varicose veins. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be developing CVI.
- Swelling around the ankles and lower legs
- Pain in the legs that gets better when you raise your legs
- A feeling of weakness or heaviness in the legs
- Itching in the calves for no apparent reason
- A change in color of the skin on the legs or ankles
- Ulcers on the lower legs that are difficult to heal
- The calves feel tight and hard
During a consultation with a Premier Vein Institute expert, your venous issues may be diagnosed. A physical examination and a complete medical history review may be require, which may indicate the source of the problem.
There are two main ways CVI is diagnosed including a venogram and duplex ultrasound. If you are developing CVI, there are several treatments available.
The best treatment will depend on several things, including your age, specific condition, the severity of your condition and how well you tolerate procedures and medication. You may be asked to keep your legs elevated whenever possible, wear compression stockings, not cross your legs when you are seated and get regular exercise. There is also surgery and minimally invasive procedures that can remove varicose veins.
While varicose veins may not be a serious condition, it is recommended to get treatment as early as possible to avoid serious CVI problems from developing. Fortunately, there are treatments that will give you smooth legs again.
If you live in the Brandon, Mango, Clearwater, Temple Terrace, Largo, and Tampa FL and surrounding areas, and you think you may suffer from CVI, call our offices and set up a consultation today!