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Blood Vessels Are Critical To Our Health

Mar 20

We don’t give much thought to our veins, but these blood vessels are critical to our health. The arteries carry oxygenated blood to different parts of the body, while the veins bring deoxygenated blood back to the heart. If the veins get damaged, they can no longer perform this essential function. The condition is called varicose or spider veins, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) or deep vein thrombosis. The good news is that vein damage can often be reversed with lifestyle changes, medication or minimally invasive procedures and surgeries.

People with varicose and spider damaged veins in legs can experience pain, heaviness and swelling in their legs. They may also have skin discoloration and ulcers. The condition occurs because of weakened vein walls, valves or both. Risk factors include age, heredity, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Women are more likely to develop the disease than men.

The symptoms of varicose and spider veins are fairly mild at first and can be mistaken for a normal part of the aging process. The discomfort may get worse at the end of the day or after long periods of sitting or standing. It’s important to recognize these early signs so that you can get treatment before the condition progresses.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of varicose or spider veins, try elevating your feet and taking a break from prolonged sitting or standing. Regular exercise, especially brisk walking, is helpful, too, because it improves circulation and tones the muscles of your legs, which help move blood through the veins.

Medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help relieve the occasional pain of varicose veins. But these medications do not address the underlying cause of the condition, which is poor circulation. It is possible to treat the condition with lifestyle changes, medication and procedures, including compression therapy and surgery.

The goal of treating these conditions is to make blood flow more efficient and limit damage to the veins, arteries and other tissues in your body. Depending on how severe your condition is, your doctor can recommend medication, noninvasive or surgical procedures or treatments or both.

Some treatments target and close the damaged veins so that blood no longer flows through them. This prevents the veins from leaking, which can lead to complications such as venous ulcers. With sclerotherapy, Dr. Banda injects a salt solution into the damaged vein, which causes it to close. The damaged vein shrivels, and scar tissue forms around it, which eventually fades. Another procedure is EVLT, in which your doctor uses laser or radiofrequency technology to target the damaged vein and destroy it. After the damaged vein is gone, blood finds new paths to the heart through healthy veins, and the old veins revert to a normal appearance. In some cases, patients are left with noticeable brown lines, but these generally fade over time.