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Venous Insufficiency

Condition: Venous insufficiency or chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the veins are unable to circulate blood adequately, especially from the legs back to the heart.

Background: CVI is the seventh leading cause of chronic disability in the U.S. Older people, obese individuals and pregnant women, as well as those who must sit or stand for long periods of time are just some of the groups more susceptible to it. CVI can be caused by a number of different vein disorders, however deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) and varicose veins are most common.

Risk Factors: If someone in the family has had venous insufficiency, if a person has had a blood clot or if an individual has varicose veins now, they are more at risk.

History and Symptoms: Common symptoms include having prominent varicose veins or veins that look “ropy,” swelling and skin discoloration. Examples of other symptoms are aching or throbbing legs and feet, skin ulcers, and cramping or leg weakness.

Physical Exam: Patients often stand during exams so physicians can see and feel their veins. They typically check for distended veins, abnormal spider or varicose veins, skin changes and edema (collected watery fluid).

Diagnostic Process: Physicians who suspect a patient has venous insufficiency will often recommend duplex ultrasound scanning. This allows them to check blood flow and rule out other issues, such as a blood clot.

Rehab Management: Elastic compression stockings can be used to help increase circulation, and medications can reduce pain and swelling. Patients should maintain a healthy weight, eat a nutritious diet, exercise, quit smoking, avoid trauma to their legs and elevate their legs whenever possible to help reduce vein pressure.

Other Resources for Patients and Families: The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers information about vascular diseases that can help patients and their families.

 

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