Veins are blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart to pick up oxygen. They are hollow tubes with valves that open and close to regulate the flow of blood. In vein disease, the valves and/or the walls get damaged, so the veins don’t work as effectively as they should. When the valves stop closing properly, the blood can flow backwards or in both directions. Just as there are multiple treatments for vein disease, there are multiple causes of vein disease as well.
Types of Vein Disease
Vein disease can be chronic or acute. Chronic vein disease develops gradually, while acute vein disease occurs suddenly, often in a patient with no prior symptoms of vein disease. Acute vein disease is often caused by a blood clot. If a piece of the blood clot breaks off and gets in a lung, the result is a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism.
What Causes Blood Clots?
Blood clots form when blood cells clump together. Under normal conditions, the clot forms in response to signals from platelets and certain proteins. Sometimes, the blood will clot in response to a trigger within the patient’s vein. If the patient’s blood is flowing abnormally slowly and/or they have a damaged vein wall, they are more likely to develop a blood clot within that vein.
Blood clots can be caused by any of the following:
• Injury or infection that damages a vein
• Genetic disorders
• Prolonged immobility
• Hormonal imbalances, like those caused by pregnancy or birth control pills
• Conditions like congestive heart failure that make blood flow abnormally slow and/or make the blood abnormally thick
What is Venous Insufficiency?
Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the veins don’t regulate blood flow properly, so the blood ends up collecting in the patient’s legs or feet. Vein diseases in general most typically develop within the legs, simply because the veins there have to work against gravity to transport blood to the heart. Venous insufficiency is usually caused by blood clots or varicose veins.
Symptoms of venous insufficiency include varicose veins, weakness in the legs, edema or swelling of the ankles or legs, cramps, ulcers on the legs and discolored or thickened skin.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins that look like blue or purple cords under the skin. They are caused by damaged valves within those veins that prevent the blood from flowing forward. The blood collects in the veins that consequently become distended.
Who is Most Likely to Develop Vein Disease?
Certain risk factors increase the chances of someone developing vein disease. They include the following:
• Genetics – Some conditions like varicose veins run in families
• Age – Vein disease is more common in older people
• Gender – Vein disease is more common in women
• Occupation – Jobs that require people to stand or sit for a long time are popular causes of vein disease
• Weight – People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop vein disease
Learn More About the Causes of Vein Disease
Getting more information about the causes of vein disease can help you determine ways in which to prevent further venous issues from developing. During a consultation at South Texas Vein Institute in Edinburg, our experts can assess the condition of your veins, help you determine how they got there and then work with you to develop a plan of treatment. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.