Chronic Venous Insufficiency & Varicose Veins
Also known as: Chronic Venous Insufficiency – CVI
Foreground: The blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the body. Once the blood reaches the intended area via an artery and delivers the oxygen and nutrients, the deoxygenated blood from the body is returned to the heart through the veins.
Unlike the arteries, blood flow in the veins has to be in an upward direction against gravity to reach the heart. The muscle of the legs and feet help with pumping the blood upward to the heart by contracting (ex: calf muscles contract when walking). This is why veins have valves so that the blood can only move upward and not backward.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency occurs when either the valves in the veins are not functioning properly or the walls of the veins are weakened (varicose veins). The blood cannot reach the heart without causing it to pool (called stasis). This leads to a buildup of pressure in the leg veins and capillaries, ultimately progressing to chronic venous insufficiency. The capillaries can burst from the pressure over time and cause the skin to have a reddish discoloration. With such repeated injuries and decreased blood flow, venous stasis ulcers may also form.
- Blood clots in deep leg veins (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
- Smoking or the use of other tobacco products
- Age – older adults are more affected
- Sex – more common in females
- Standing or sitting for a long period of time
- Weak blood vessels (AV Malformations)
Note: Not everyone may experience all symptoms
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Youn YJ, Lee J. Chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins of the lower extremities. Korean J Intern Med. 2019;34(2):269-283. doi:10.3904/kjim.2018.230
McArdle M, Hernandez-Vila EA. Management of Chronic Venous Disease. Tex Heart Inst J. 2017;44(5):347-349. Published 2017 Oct 1. doi:10.14503/THIJ-17-6357