Varicose veins are abnormal dilations of the veins that occur as a result of reduced venous return. Frequently, they develop in the legs, since the legs support the weight of the whole body. Humans are the only mammals to suffer from varicose veins.
Symptoms can manifest with pain, tiredness in the legs, swelling in the ankles, hardened skin, or ulcers. But why do varicose veins occur in the legs? Varicosities in the legs are caused by an alteration in the return of blood to the heart.
There are two large venous systems:
- Deep veins are formed by the veins that accompany the arteries and usually run inside the muscles.
- Superficial veins are made by the internal and external saphenous veins on the internal and posterior side of the leg, respectively.
The latter, the superficial system, is the one that, when it malfunctions, causes varicose veins and this is where most of the treatment methods are applied. The venous system is responsible for transporting blood from the feet to the heart, against gravity. This titanic task is aided by a network of valves inside the veins that prevent the blood from falling again. In this way, the superficial venous system discharges the blood in the deep veins and transports it to the heart to start the cycle again.
How could varicose veins affect a person’s health?
Varicose veins, in addition to being painful and unpleasant, can cause symptoms that impair quality of life and the ability to carry out activities of daily living. If the factors that promote venous insufficiency in the lower extremities are not corrected and no treatment is provided, this disease may increase in severity. For example, the more advanced forms of chronic venous insufficiency, such as varicose ulcers, can further diminish the quality of life and result in disability.
- Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
- Blood clots in the legs
Varicose veins can promote the development of blood clots, or they can break and bleed. Varicose veins can increase the risk of serious blood clots in the deep veins (deep vein thrombosis). Visit veinhealth.com.au for more information.