Our cardiovascular system is constantly working around the clock to keep our blood flowing, nutrients rushed from one system to another and tissues properly functioning. Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is prevalent in 40% of women and 25% of men in Canada and throughout the world. This chronic condition affects so many people because symptoms begin as mild and often go unnoticed. When left untreated, venous insufficiency can become a more serious problem and affect other aspects of your overall health. At Canada Vein Clinics, we make it our mission to educate our patients on optimal vein health and provide nonsurgical vein treatments to reduce the symptoms of chronic vein insufficiency.
The Cardiovascular System and Healthy Blood Flow
To begin understanding the stress on the cardiovascular system, which includes arteries and veins, we need to know more about the delicate movement of blood through the heart and how it supplies the human body with everything it needs to sustain our lives. The heart is the conductor of the cardiovascular system, since it is the median communication point of all blood flow; the arteries and veins stem from the heart and meet here to exchange blood after it has been processed by the heart or brought back after cycling through the system.
Blood requires oxygen to filter throughout the tissues of the body including all the major organs, such as the brain, so that they can all function accordingly. Many of the metabolic processes within the body require oxygen to function, so this process of oxygen uptake is vital and the cardiovascular system weaves throughout the body to help provide that.
Veins Move Blood Forward Using One-Way Valves
After blood picks up oxygen, it moves through the heart to larger arteries that progressively get smaller as oxygen-rich blood flows throughout the body. The smaller the arteries get, the easier it is for nutrients to filter out from the blood into the tissues and major organs. Once the blood is finished cycling through the body, it is left free of oxygen and needs to move back to the heart to pick up more to repeat the process; that’s where veins begin their work.
Veins start out as tiny vessels pulling oxygen-poor blood from the body that progressively get larger. Because this blood is without oxygen, it needs to move in one direction back to the heart. In order to make sure blood moves steadily forward, the veins have tiny door-like valves that open to push blood forward and close to prevent reflux (backward flow). Over time, with age, and depending on your genetics, these valves can become weakened causing insufficient venous flow, eventually becoming chronic—chronic venous insufficiency.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Vein Insufficiency
When valves aren’t able to close completely, some excess blood flows backward creating increased blood volume in the veins. This build-up adds an immense amount of pressure on vein walls causing the veins to expand to make room for blood excess. As blood moves up from the lower limbs against gravity, more stress is added and these veins eventually reroute blood to superficial veins that are not used to that high volume; this is where varicose veins come from. Varicose veins are the number one visual sign that chronic vein insufficiency is present.
For many of our patients, varicose veins alert them that something beneath the surface needs attention and they come to us for effective treatment recommendations. For other patients there are milder symptoms that come prior to the appearance of varicose veins. These symptoms of chronic vein insufficiency are tightness, tingling, swelling, itching, redness and pain usually experienced in the legs usually after prolong sitting or standing in the same spot.
Summary of Signs and Symptoms:
- Heaviness in the legs
- Burning sensation
- Redness or pigmentation
- Difficulty walking
- Swelling in the limbs
- Restless legs
- Cramping in the limbs
When chronic vein insufficiency is present, pain can often become a part of every day life. Elevating the legs for 10-15 minutes a day will reduce the pain of reflux, as will mild daily exercise. Should you feel any of these signs of insufficient circulation, it’s important you come in for a full vein scan so that we may properly diagnose the condition, and suggest the best course of treatment.
Conditions produced by CVI:
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Venous Ulcers
- Low Circulation
- Stasis Dermatitis
How We Diagnose Chronic Vein Insufficiency
During consultation for chronic vein insufficiency, our patients are given vascular ultrasound exams directly in our office to check on the health of their deep and superficial veins in the lower extremities. Dr. Matz or one of our talented phlebologists at Canada Vein Clinics will perform a physical exam, noting any pain experienced and the level of pain. Based on their findings during your vein assessment, your physician will rule out or confirm the presence of CVI or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). At this time you may also ask our doctor about alternative methods for clean, healthy veins in addition to details about our non-invasive vein treatments.
Chronic Vein Insufficiency Treatment
After your vein assessment and confirmation of chronic vein insufficiency, Dr. Matz or one of our dedicated Canada Vein Clinics’ physicians will offer a list of treatment recommendations depending on the level of care required at this point. Should your symptoms and condition be mild, the first level of prevention and care will be compression stockings and light exercise to prevent serious deep vein conditions. Should you require one of our virtually painless vein correcting procedures, we offer the following:
- ClariVein Treatment
- Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT)
Contact Canada Vein Clinics today to schedule your consultation and to learn more about chronic vein insufficiency. This is the first step in creating a life free from pain and unhealthy veins!