Your veins and arteries comprise your entire network of blood flow – arteries sending blood out to your extremities, and veins pulling blood back to the heart. As you might imagine, arteries have a much easier job, as gravity aids your blood to flow to the arms, legs and organs during your normal day sitting and standing. Veins, on the other hand, are put under a lot of pressure by certain lifestyle tendencies and the pull of gravity. While eating habits, smoking and other unhealthy decisions typically cause artery diseases, veins can be affected by something as simple as the nature of your work, and such conditions are often unavoidable.
The best way to combat any of these diseases is to LEARN about them! The more you know, the more you can do to make changes that promote your overall health and quality of life. Below are the 5 most common venous and arterial diseases. Know that each of these is treatable and must be addressed as soon as you begin to experience symptoms for the best results and to avoid more serious problems.
Coronary Artery Disease
Affecting 13 million Americans and labeled the leading form of heart disease, Coronary Artery Disease is characterized by a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Its most common symptom is angina, commonly referred to as chest pain. Because your coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart, any plaque that prevents this circulation may have a significant and sometimes fatal consequence.
The cause of this condition is typically high cholesterol, which leads to the massive buildup of plaque through the arteries. The easiest way to avoid such a disease is by healthy eating as well as exercise. Avoiding fatty foods high in cholesterol and eating a diet low in processed sugars is essential in maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
Venous insufficiency is a broad term describing the failure of veins to adequately circulate blood, especially from the extremities. This disease typically affects veins in the legs, as they are furthest from the heart and have the hardest trip back, facing the force of gravity and the weight of the body. Therefore, the less excess weight carried in the legs, the easier it is to avoid venous insufficiency.
Venous insufficiency can present itself in many ways, one of the more serious being DVT, or Deep Vein Thrombosis. This disease, although not the most common venous disorders, is extremely serious and requires immediate care. This is why it is vital to care for your conditions as soon as they present themselves and continue to care for your overall health. The following venous diseases also fall under the category of venous insufficiency but are far more common amongst the wider population.
Lower extremity wounds/Chronic leg ulcers
Ulcers and wounds are open sores that cannot heal or keep returning, typically caused by venous or arterial disease. Diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis may also lead to chronic ulceration, but about 80% of these conditions are attributed to venous insufficiency.
In many people, the valves that propel the blood flow through the veins may be damaged by clots or merely affected by insufficiency. Damaged valves may cause blood to flow the wrong way down the vein, resulting in very high pressure when standing. This pressure may damage the skin and lead to wounds or ulcers in the legs.
Preventing this condition is dependent upon lifestyle changes, including losing weight, introducing fresh fruit and exercise to your daily routine and avoiding smoking. Most venous conditions can be avoided by leading a healthy life.
Varicose Veins affect up to 180 million people in North America and Europe and are often gone without care or maintenance. Varicose veins are classified as a form of venous insufficiency and typically appear in the legs. Lifestyle habits, work tendencies and genetics are all leading factors of varicose veins.
These bulging, rope-like veins appear as a cause of insufficient blood flow to larger veins and may disrupt normal circulation, leading to swelling, pain and often DVT. Leading a lifestyle rich in unhealthy foods and a lack of exercise may lead to varicose veins, but this disease affects so many because of factors that may be out of your hands.
Work that requires standing or sitting for extended hours may put undue pressure on the legs and prevent blood from flowing efficiently. If you spend hours during the day on your feet, attempt to take short breaks to sit or elevate your legs. Introducing yoga poses that require your legs to be elevated for several minutes at a time to your morning or nightly routines may be beneficial as well. For those who spend hours at a desk all day, taking a ten-minute walk during work hours or introducing an exercise plan to your day will dramatically improve your vein health.
However, many people are genetically susceptible to varicose veins and no amount of diet or exercise can completely eliminate your risk. Further, pregnancy increases this likelihood tenfold. In this case, compression stockings may be able to promote healthy circulation. If you are already suffering from varicose veins, there are procedures that can help you heal.
Spider veins are most common in men and women over the age of 40. These delicate veins may appear anywhere on the body, from the feet to the face and are often treated as more a cosmetic issue than medical. The truth is, spider veins are caused by the same insufficiency that characterizes varicose veins, but because they do not affect more vital blood passages, they may be overlooked.
If you notice spider veins, they may be signs of a deeper issue, and you should see a physician to address the problem. That is true of any of the above conditions. Venous and arterial diseases are very much treatable, especially in their early stages. If you are feeling pressure in your legs or already visibly seeing the effects of circulation disorders, contact the Canada Vein Clinics to schedule a consultation.