Chronic Venous Insufficiency, or CVI, occurs when the veins in the leg are unable to return the blood to the heart. This condition can lead to several health issues, including pain, swelling, cramps, varicose veins, leg ulcers, and blood clots in the legs. Blood clots in the legs are especially serious since they can trigger a potentially fatal medical emergency called a pulmonary embolism.
Your veins help circulate the blood through your body by returning it to the heart. Tiny valves in the veins help keep the blood flowing in the right direction, even when it is traveling uphill from the feet and legs. When too much pressure is placed upon the veins, they can become damaged. A chronic venous insufficiency arises when these valves become damaged, allowing the blood to begin to flow backward through the vein.
CVI is a very common medical condition, affecting around 40% of the U.S. population. Being over the age of fifty, female, pregnant. overweight, and sitting or standing for extended periods are a few of the risk factors associated with CVI.
Speak with your doctor immediately if you begin to exhibit signs of chronic venous insufficiency. Symptoms associated with a CVI include:
● Pain and swelling in the lower legs and ankles
● The appearance of new varicose veins
● Flaking or itchy skin on the legs or feet
● Muscle cramps and spasms
● Restless legs
● Ulcer formation
● Discolored, leathery appearance of the skin on the legs
One of the reasons early diagnosis and treatment are so important is that when the blood stops flowing it can begin to collect or pool in your legs. The blood begins to coagulate, forming a blood clot in the leg called a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. DVTs respond well to treatment but can pose a serious health threat if left undiagnosed.
You may have a blood clot if you experience new swelling in your leg, discolored skin, pain and soreness in your leg, or a warm spot in your leg.
If you think you have a blood clot, see a doctor right away. Blood clots in the legs can be very dangerous because they can break free and travel to other parts of the body, including the brain and heart.
When a blood clot enters the lung, it can trigger a potentially fatal event called a pulmonary embolism (PE). If you suddenly find yourself having trouble breathing, chest pains, a racing heartbeat, coughing up blood, or losing consciousness, you need to call 911 or go to an emergency room without delay.
Fortunately, there are many effective treatments for CVI. These include non-surgical procedures, such as sclerotherapy or endovenous thermal ablation, and surgical treatments such as vein ligation and stripping.
In sclerotherapy, a solution is injected into the vein, causing them to collapse and disappear. The blood is automatically rerouted through other veins. An endovenous thermal ablation procedure is similar but uses heat to close off the vein. Both procedures are used to treat varicose veins as well.
Ligation and Stripping are used to treat CVI in larger veins. In ligation, the vein surgeon cuts and ties off the vein, while in the stripping procedure, the damaged section of the vein is completely removed.
If you live in the East Bay Area and begin to experience the symptoms of CVI, schedule an appointment at the BASS Vein Center without delay. Left untreated, your CVI could develop into a dangerous, life-threatening blood clot.