VARICOSE VEIN DISEASE: UNDERSTANDING YOUR VENOUS SYSTEM
Veins return blood back to the heart from the extremities, through a series of small valves that pump blood upwards.
There are three main venous systems in the legs:
- a deep system, which carries about 90% of the blood back to the heart;
- a superficial system, which carries about 10% of the blood back to the heart; and
- a third system – perforator veins – which carries blood from the superficial to the deep system.
Varicose and spider veins occur solely in the superficial system, when the vein wall loses its elasticity and the pumping valves stop functioning properly. This causes the blood to flow back downwards, thus creating a reverse process called reflux, which can be heard and viewed with the Doppler ultrasound.
WHAT CAUSES VARICOSE VEINS?
Heredity and varicose vein disease
“Like mother like daughter”, is also true for varicose veins. Varicose veins run in the family. The probabilities of having varicose veins is even higher if both parents are affected. Many young patients consult early to prevent the disease from worsening.
Some traumas can cause varicose veins
Varicose veins may appear following a trauma to the legs, or pursuant to a fracture. Moreover, it is important to schedule an appointment with a specialist if you experience heaviness, burning or numbness sensation in the legs to diagnose your vein problem and proceed to treat your varicose veins.
Predisposing factors to varicose veins
Some people may be more likely to develop varicose veins and should be more vigilant. Here are some factors that may cause varicose veins:
- Old age;
- Hormonal factors such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Pregnancy increases hormonal levels and loosens the vein wall, and leads to the formation of varicose veins, and more particularly of blue spider veins. Women are three times more predisposed to varicose veins than men;
- Work in a prolonged standing position, especially for nurses, pharmacists, waitresses, and teachers.
If you have a doubt about a potential varicose vein disease, please call one of our specialists.