What Causes Venous Insufficiency and How Can People Treat it
Veins are designed to carry the body’s blood to the heart from the rest of the body. Varicose veins appear when certain mechanisms or parts of the venous system deteriorate. Veins are provided with numerous “valves”. When the veins contract or are subjected to the action of the surrounding muscles, these valves open in one direction, causing the blood to circulate in the direction of the heart. By closing, they prevent blood from flowing in the opposite direction. If the valves weaken, the blood flow decreases. It tends to stagnate or even go down into the legs, for example. The resulting accumulation of blood dilates the vein, and the vein becomes varicose.
When a person takes a walk, the return of blood to the heart is favored by the leg muscles, which act as a pump for the deeper veins. Low muscle tone in the legs is, therefore, a factor contributing to the formation of varicose veins. At rest, the venous walls may also play an important role in the return of blood to the heart. Their effectiveness depends on their ability to contract (tone), their elasticity, and their tightness. Over time, they may lose their elasticity. Vein walls can also deteriorate to the point of becoming semi-permeable. This allows them to let blood escape into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling of the legs or ankles, for example.
People who have venous insufficiency are likely:
Persons predisposed by their heredity. Hereditary factors are predominant. Having a mother, father, brother, or sister with varicose veins increases the risk;
Women. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy, premenstrual periods, and menopause contributes to the development of varicose veins;
People over 50 years old. The process of vein degeneration and their valves can, however, begin in the thirties;
Pregnant women. At the time of pregnancy, the expansion of the uterus compresses the large abdominal veins, which hampers the body’s venous return. In addition, the hormones secreted during pregnancy cause a relaxation of the musculature of the veins. Fortunately, varicose veins that are only related to pregnancy often resolve themselves within 3 months of delivery;
People who work standing for long periods of time. Cashiers, nurses, waiters, teachers, etc. are particularly affected but only if they have a hereditary predisposition to varicose veins.
There are, of course, other known risk factors: obesity, multiple pregnancies, smoking, lack of physical activity, etc. Although venous disease affects men, women are more commonly affected. Why are varicose veins more common in women? Hormonal changes in women, particularly related to pregnancy and menopause, increase the risk of having varicose veins. But do men have this problem? Yes, just like women, men are prone to have varicose veins and may need to be treated. Heredity is the most important risk factor and it is common to see that many family members are affected. Contact Vein Health for more details.