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What is chronic venous insufficiency?

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is the result of the valves in your veins not working correctly. These valves prevent blood from regurgitating back into the vein and pooling. But with chronic venous insufficiency, the valves are faulty which results in blood flowing backward and pooling in the vein.

The most common cause of CVI is high blood pressure,against the valves which can damage blood vessels, especially in the legs. The constant high pressure against the valves makes them weak and unable to effectively transport blood back to the heart.

Risk factors :

The following other factors also could put you at increased risk of CVI:

· Diabetes

· Aging

· Obesity

· Pregnancy

· Phlebitis

· A job that requires standing and/or sitting for long periods

· Deep vein thrombosis or blood clots in the veins of the legs

· Family history of CVI or blood clots

· Trauma, injury, or surgery to the legs

Most patients have no symptoms of CVI. This is why if you experience any of the below symptoms, you should see a vein specialist right away. Common symptoms include:

· Pain

· Leg or ankle swelling

· Pain while exercising or walking that subsides when you rest

· Tight sensation in the legs or a feeling of itching in the legs

· Discolored or brown skin near the ankles

· Varicose veins or spider veins

· Leg cramps and muscle spasms that are painful

· Restless leg syndrome or an irresistible sensation to move the legs

· Ulcers on the legs that are difficult to treat and slow to heal

· CVI can be life-threatening if not treated and can lead to more serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

You can decrease your risk of CVI by eating healthy (avoiding foods high in sugar and carbohydrates), maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, avoiding sitting and standing for long periods of time and avoiding smoking.

Diagnosing CVI is relatively straightforward. Medical history and examination of your legs for any visible signs of venous disease, such as skin discoloration or swelling gives clue that it is due to CVI. A Doppler or duplex ultrasound, which will allow us to view the veins and determine the speed of the blood flow and the direction it is flowing. If you suffer from CVI due to faulty valves, it will be easily seen during this test.

There are a number of treatments for CVI that range from conservative to invasive. Depending on your condition, we may recommend the use of compression stockings to help with swelling and various treatments for skin problems such as ulcers or itching. Exercise is also a common therapy.

Dr Ashish Sarode


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