What is Venous Disease?
Venous disease refers to all medical and health problems caused by veins that become diseased and prevents the venous system from working efficiently. Vein problems are among the most common chronic conditions in North America, more common than Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). More than 80 million Americans suffer from some form of venous disorder. It has a profound effect on healthcare costs and human wellbeing. Among the many forms of the disease are Varicose Veins, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Pulmonary Embolism, Postthrombotic Syndrome and Congenital Venous Malformations.
Chronic Venous Disease (CVD) of the lower limb is a common cause of leg pain and ankle swelling and is often, but not always, associated with varicose veins. The more severe stage is called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and includes brownish discoloration, eczema or leg ulcers and may indicate a more extensive venous involvement. PAD or Peripheral Artery Disease is usually caused by arteriosclerosis (so-called “hardening of the arteries”) causing blockage of the arteries that supply the periphery with blood. Veins return blood back to the heart from the legs. Venous disease occurs when there is a blockage of the veins, especially the pelvic veins, or the valves of the veins do not function properly. Vein valves allow the blood to flow against gravity (one-way check valves) and prevent backflow of blood (pooling) into the legs and feet. When the valves are damaged, backflow may occur and is called venous reflux. CVD may also occur after having had a Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), which has dissolved poorly and caused residual blockage and damaged the vein valves (postthrombotic disease).
Signs and symptoms of CVD include: varicose veins, leg swelling, eczema, skin ulcers around the ankle, hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin) and aching, tiredness, restless legs or throbbing of the legs. Generally, uncomplicated CVD does not pose risk to life or limb, but it may affect ability to work and carry out every day activities with ease (quality of life). Complications such as onset of blood clots may pose serious health risks however.