Venous insufficiency involves the impaired functioning of the superficial and/or deep venous systems. It is characterized by a decrease in the return of blood to the heart caused by a change in the vein wall. This health problem, especially common among women – 70 percent of women over the age of 80 – can develop at any age, but mainly strikes seniors.
Symptoms of venous insufficiency
In many cases, the following symptoms point to the same health problem: venous insufficiency.
- Heavy legs;
- Circulation problems;
- Varicose veins;
- Night cramps;
- Spontaneous bruising;
- Restless legs syndrome (uncontrollable movement of the legs after going to bed);
Risk factors for venous insufficiency
The most important risk factor for venous insufficiency is heredity, but there are also other aggravating factors:
- High cholesterol;
- Hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives;
- Lack of activity or certain sports like jogging;
- Prolonged standing or sitting;
- Excessive exposure to a source of heat or the sun;
- High heels and tight-fitting clothing.
Complications of venous insufficiency
In rare cases, venous insufficiency can cause phlebitis, the formation of a blood clot in the vein. If the clot detaches from the vein wall and travels to the pulmonary arteries, it can ultimately lead to a pulmonary embolism.
The most common complication of venous insufficiency is the onset of varicose veins, which affect from 10 to 20 percent of the population between the ages of 30 and 70. Having a parent who has a venous disorder increases your risk of developing varicose veins by 45 percent.
Varicose veins are bluish, dilated and twisted veins that protrude under the skin. They are generally found on the legs, especially on the calves, and gradually grow worse. A single varicose vein can cause significant discomfort.
Varicose veins generally do not lead to complications among those who have them. They can be treated, however, either to diminish the associated pain or for esthetic reasons: compression stockings, pain medication, sclerotherapy (injection of a concentrated chemical solution that causes the venous tissue to scar and die off) and, in some cases, surgery.
Preventing and treating venous insufficiency
While we have no control over our genetic baggage, we can change some of our habits. Here are a few tips to help you prevent circulation problems, or at least reduce their impact:
- Avoid remaining stationary for too long;
- Get moving to get your blood flowing (e.g. walking, cycling);
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator;
- Sleep with your legs elevated;
- Avoid intense heat (e.g. extended sunbathing, saunas, hot wax hair removal);
- Give your legs a cool bath regularly;
- Maintain a healthy weight;
- Stop smoking;
- Avoid wearing high heels.
If you suffer from venous insufficiency, there are many treatment options available, based on the severity of your problem. These
There are many professional pharmacy services that can help you alleviate venous insufficiency:
- Medication management;
- Orthopedic services;
- Rental program – Mobility aids (crutches, wheelchairs, canes, walkers);
- Home care – Mobility aids.
Do you have questions about venous insufficiency or how to treat it? Talk to your pharmacist. He’s there to help!