Ideally, your blood constantly flows from your heart to your limbs and back again, but when something disrupts that rhythmic pattern or slows the flow, you have venous insufficiency.
Chronic venous insufficiency leads to several potential health conditions, so avoiding it should top your list of priorities. But how?
We’re glad you asked. Our board-certified vascular specialists at Rockland Thoracic & Vascular Associates love discussing preventive measures, especially when it involves your heart and circulation.
Here, we explain chronic venous insufficiency and how you can sidestep this problematic condition.
You may hear the term chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) used interchangeably with varicose veins, but one is a cause and the other a symptom.
CVI occurs when something interrupts the flow of blood to your heart, typically blood clots or damaged valves in the blood vessels. Varicose veins are byproducts of CVI. When clots or faulty valves cause blood to pool in your veins, the vessels become visible through the skin’s surface.
Small, weblike vessels are called spider veins and usually don’t cause any pain or medical concern. Varicose veins are their larger cousins and may appear bulgy, ropey, and twisted, and may feel itchy or painful.
CVI may also cause:
Although CVI isn’t an immediate health threat, it indicates a problem that can lead to serious problems, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
DVT is a clot deep inside your leg that can break off and travel to your lungs, an event called a pulmonary embolism. DVT is potentially life-threatening.
CVI can happen to anyone, but some people are at a higher risk than others. For example, your chances of developing CVI increase if you:
If any of these conditions apply to you, take steps to tip the odds in your favor.
If CVI runs in your family, there’s not much you can do about that, but there are several risk factors you can control. The way to prevent CVI is to eliminate as many risk factors as you can.
Obesity puts a lot of excess pressure on your veins, especially those in your legs, so losing weight can reduce your risk for CVI.
Good circulation depends on strong leg muscles — every time they contract, they help your veins return blood to your heart. Weak muscles allow the blood flow to become sluggish, damaging the valves and leading to CVI and varicose veins, so get moving.
The chemicals in tobacco damage your veins, lead to plaque buildup or atherosclerosis, and can cause CVI. Smoking also decreases the amount of good cholesterol and increases the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood.
Quitting leads to a rapid improvement in cholesterol levels, slows the development of atherosclerosis, and significantly reduces your risk of serious heart disease and death.
You need about 25-30 grams of fiber daily to ward off heart disease and other serious health conditions like diabetes and colon cancer. Fiber not only keeps your cholesterol in check, it also bulks up and softens your stools, so you don’t have to strain and put excess pressure on your veins.
The same lifestyle habits that help you prevent CVI can also help treat it. Compression stockings can also aid your circulation and ease your symptoms.
For problematic varicose veins, we may perform various procedures to remove the damaged veins.
If you suspect CVI, don’t hesitate to contact us at any of our four New York locations in Pomona, Goshen, Fishkill, or the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. We also have an office in Englewood, New Jersey. Whether you want to prevent CVI or treat it, we’re here to help.