Venous disease occurs when veins (usually in your legs) are damaged or weakened and cannot pump the proper amount of blood to your heart. This causes blood to pool in your legs, which can lead to various symptoms. Venous disease affects about 15 percent of the adult population and results in symptoms that range from mild to severe.
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What Is Venous Disease?
Veins pump blood to your heart. Your leg veins contain valves that help to keep blood flowing upward, against gravity. If these valves become weak or damaged, blood can flow back down into your legs and pool in your veins. Venous disease is a general term for some of the common conditions that occur when blood pools in your leg veins, causing pain and other complications.
Common venous disease conditions include:
- Chronic venous insufficiency (severe swelling, sores and other skin changes that occur on your legs when blood has been pooled in the veins over a long period of time)
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a deep vein)
- Leg swelling and leg pain
- Venous stasis ulcers (painful sores near the ankles)
- Phlebitis (inflammation of the vein)
- Spider veins (clusters of small veins that appear red, purple or blue)
- Varicose veins (swollen veins, close to the skin, that sometimes look like cords)
What Causes Venous Disease?
When you are in an upright position, the blood in your veins has to travel upwards, against gravity. Veins carry blood through a series of valves that open to push blood up toward the heart. When these valves become impaired or weakened, blood flows downward and pools in your veins, resulting in a variety of symptoms.
Risk factors that contribute to venous disease include:
- Family history of venous disease
- History of blood clots
- Prolonged periods of sitting or standing