Chronic venous insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition that affects many people. The condition occurs because the veins in the legs weaken and simply lose their ability to pump enough blood throughout the body. Chronic venous insufficiency is also known as CVI. While the diagnosis is not something that anyone wants to experience it is not all that uncommon. The reason for this is that the veins inside of the legs return blood that is low in oxygen to the heart throughout our lives. As we age, the veins naturally weaken and stretch. When this weakening and stretching happens, some people will simply not have veins that pump the blood effectively.

Chronic venous insufficiency is a significant diagnosis because the veins return blood to the heart in one of two ways. The first way is that the force of the heart pumping fresh blood into the veins pushes the blood back to the heart. The second way that the blood returns to the heart is that it flows to the heart from the force of gravity alone. In the legs the blood is basically fighting against gravity, so the veins in the legs contract to pump the blood back up toward the heart. When a person is up and moving around the pumping of the blood back to heart is easier, but in a healthy vein system it can always be done even if one is sitting or sleeping. The process gets more difficult when those veins are stretched and weakened and can no longer pump efficiently.

The symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency vary from person to person and may also depend on the severity of the condition. Many individual’s develop varicose veins, ulcers on the skin, a rash on the calves or ankles, and even discolored skin on any area of the leg. Other people may notice red skin or swelling. Others feel that their legs are always tired or that they feel weighed and just very hard to move.

The most common cause of chronic venous insufficiency is venous hypertension, which is essentially high blood pressure within the veins that lasts for an extended period of time. The condition can also be caused by thrombus, blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis. There are some risk factors that will make you more likely to develop chronic venous insufficiency. These risk factors include being female and over 50, family history of the condition, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, pregnancy, and having an occupation that requires sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time.

A diagnosis of chronic venous insufficiency is usually made after a physical examination. Many times a doctor has a good idea that this is what is going on and then they will order an ultrasound and venograms to confirm their suspicions. Depending on the severity of the condition a doctor may choose to treat the chronic venous insufficiency with out patient methods such as elastic compression therapy, which can be done with a physical therapy. The doctor may also prescribe sclerotherapy, or in more serious cases vein stripping, deep vein surgery or valve repair may be more appropriate. Your doctor will weigh the pros and cons of each option with you to help you make the decision for treatment that will allow you to return to your life, continuing to enjoy the things you have always enjoyed.

The sooner the condition is diagnosed the more options you will have available to you for treatment. If you notice any of the symptoms you should see your doctor right away. Chances are that if you get an early diagnosis a change in lifestyle or some physical therapy or a combination of the two will be all that you need in the way of treatment.


Last updated on Oct 9th, 2009 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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