What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

02 istock 1145186766 croppedOur veins are tasked with returning de-oxygenated blood to the heart. You can think of them as being akin to one-way highways. Valves in the veins ensure the one-way flow of this bluish, purple blood (because it lacks oxygen). They prevent backflow. But in our legs, our veins have an entirely uphill route back to the heart. The muscles in your feet and calves help out by contracting with every step you take, helping to push the blood up through the veins.

This works well when we’re young and are muscles are strong and tissues firm and tight. But our vein walls weaken with age. Plus, our valves begin to leak and create some backflow; this allows the blood to pool in the veins. This happens in a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). CVI can lead to varicose veins, swelling in the legs and ankles, itching skin on the legs and feet, and even skin infections. It is estimated that 40 percent of the people of the United States population have some degree of CVI.

Dr. Oswalt treats chronic venous insufficiency at Fort Worth Vein Center.

What causes chronic venous insufficiency?

CVI occurs when the valves in the veins become damaged, allowing blood to leak backward. This can be a result of a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs, a disease known as deep vein thrombosis. It can also be a result of aging, extended sitting or standing, or obesity. CVI is more common in women and in people over the age of 50.

What are the risk factors for chronic venous insufficiency?

There are certain risk factors that make it more likely a person will develop CVI. These are the most important risk factors:

  • Varicose veins
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Extended periods of sitting or standing
  • Being a female
  • Being over the age of 50
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking

How is chronic venous insufficiency treated?

At Fort Worth Vein Center, there are different ways Dr. Oswalt can treat CVI. The first option is to try compression therapy and an exercise routine to get your legs helping push the blood. If those don’t work, laser ablation is the likely option to close off the veins and have your body re-route the blood to healthier, stronger veins.

Do your legs ache and have you developed new varicose veins? Are your legs cramping more than usual? You may have chronic venous insufficiency. Call Dr. Oswalt at Fort Worth Vein Center, and let’s check out your legs.

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