The arteries are designed to transport blood from the heart to the rest of the body while the veins return it back to the heart. The vein’s valves work to stop the flow of blood from going backward. If the veins have difficulty carrying blood back to the heart from the limbs, this is what’s known as venous insufficiency, or VI. When this condition occurs, blood fails to flow properly back to the heart, which makes the blood pool within the legs.
Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency
Some symptoms of VI may include the following:
- Leg ulcers
While treatment options primarily depend on the situation, they typically include surgery and prescription medications. Even if you have a long history of VI, there are some simple, basic steps you can take to decrease your odds of developing the disorder.
For people who deal with leg ulcers, reflux (abnormal reverse flow) is present in the veins. Frequently, the disorder is a direct result of varicose veins or blood clots. The valves are usually impaired or missing in the case of varicose veins.
Venous insufficiency is more prevalent in women than in men overall. According to experts, there’s also a higher chance for women to experience it between the age of 40-49 and men age 70-79. Other significant risk factors may include the following:
- Blood clots
- Varicose veins
- Family history of VI
- Muscle weakness, trauma, or leg injury
- Chronic inactivity (standing or sitting for extensive periods of time that may lead to high blood pressure in the veins of the leg and increase potential risk)
- Phlebitis (swelling of superficial veins)
Diagnosing Venous Insufficiency
To determine if you have VI, your doctor will need to know your entire medical history and perform a complete physical exam. They may also want to run a couple of key tests, including a duplex ultrasound or a venogram. In a venogram, the doctor will intravenously insert contrast dye into the veins. This will provide a clear picture of the blood vessels. A duplex ultrasound is a vascular ultrasound that can evaluate blood flow and leg vein structure.
Preventing Venous Insufficiency
If there’s a history of VI in your family, there are some things you can do in or to decrease your chances of developing the disorder, some of which include the following:
- Do not stand in the same position or sit for long periods of time – try to get up and move periodically
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking
Venous Insufficiency Risk Factors
Risk factors of venous insufficiency include:
- Natural aging process
- Family history of the disorder as well as varicose veins
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time
- Being overweight or obese
Pregnant women, particularly multiple pregnancies, have a much higher risk of developing venous insufficiency.
At Miami Vein Center, Dr. Almeida is a vascular surgeon who specializes in vein and venous treatments. He works with patients to determine the safest and most effective treatments for their specific needs. Contact Miami Vein Center today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Almeida to talk to our board certified vascular surgeon.