Veins are the blood vessels which are responsible for returning oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart for re-oxygenation. These vessels have walls and valves that control the blood and keep it flowing in one direction.
However, if the valves are working poorly or start to fail, the blood can pool and form a bulge in the vein. This is called venous insufficiency, and it can cause spider veins, varicose veins, and skin ulcers, especially in the legs.
Venous insufficiency has many causes and risk factors, many of which are preventable. Let’s talk about this potentially painful and dangerous vein condition and what tends to cause it:
Risk Factors for Venous Insufficiency
The veins in the legs need to carry blood back to the heart against the force of gravity. Therefore, proper vein function requires physical integrity of the valves and blood vessel walls.
Anything that compromises the strength of these structures can lead to venous insufficiency, including the following factors:
Some people’s genes allow for weaker blood vessels, so their veins are more likely to yield to the pressure exerted by the blood. Other people have veins that are malformed or underdeveloped.
Because the valves prevent the backflow of blood, misshapen or weak valves may not be able to prevent reverse flow. In these cases, blood is more likely to pool inside the veins, further increasing the pressure and exerting more stress on the vessel walls.
When we move our bodies, it helps everything – including fostering the valves in our veins to work normally, so the blood flows in the proper one-way direction. However, living a sedentary lifestyle compromises this natural blood flow, allowing more blood to accumulate inside the blood vessels.
Lack of exercise, therefore, weakens the blood vessels. Hence, experts recommend that people take up regular exercise, especially activities that involve the legs.
Smoking is another factor in venous insufficiency. Nicotine and other harmful substances in cigarette smoke tend to compromise blood vessel walls. Veins then become less flexible and elastic, so they are easily damaged from pressure buildup caused by blood pooling.
Obesity can also exert extra pressure on the legs since there is more weight to carry around. Pregnancy is a risk factor for the same reason but also because the woman’s circulatory system must meet the requirements of both the mother and the baby in her womb.
People who are in a standing or sitting position for many hours every day are more likely to have venous insufficiency than are people who move around more. This effect intensifies when people do not take breaks and move the legs and feet.
Bodily positions that limit blood flow to the legs – such as sitting cross-legged – can compress veins, diminishing the amount of fluid that they can carry. Tight clothing can also be an issue, particularly if it constricts veins found in the higher areas of the legs.
Comprehensive Medical Clinic in Midlands
For medical care of all kinds, including treating venous insufficiency, our team at SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation is here for you and your family. Based in the Midlands of South Carolina, we take a patient-centered approach to serve our neighbors for a lifetime of health and wellness.
If you have any questions about our medical services or would like to schedule a consultation, call us today at (803) 749-1111 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to partnering with you to good health!