Causes of Venous Disease

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Causes of Swollen Legs and Other Venous Disease Issues

Today, 25 million Americans are affected by venous disease. Weak or damaged vein walls are the cause of the disease. In a healthy individual, veins have one-way valves that work within the circulatory system to pump blood back up to the heart.

In a normal circulatory system, blood flows to and from the heart through arteries and veins. Arteries take oxygen rich blood away from the heart and veins return blood to the heart. As muscles contract, the blood is squeezed forward in the veins and when muscles relax, the valves shut to prevent blood from flowing backwards. When an abnormal circulatory problem exists, and the blood from the legs cannot efficiently return to the heart, the condition is known as venous insufficiency.

When the vein walls become weak or diseased, a faulty or weak valve can exist within the vein which prevents the valve from directing the blood flow upwards and against the pull of gravity. The reflux of blood in a negative direction is caused by a malfunctioning valve. This leads to a pooling of the blood or backward flow and can cause a variety of vein complications such as chronic vein disease, which includes varicose and spider veins, reticular veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots, superficial phlebitis, and chronic venous insufficiency.

One of the single most important causes of venous disease is heredity, however other factors can influence vein disease. These factors include pregnancy (especially multiple pregnancies), age, gender, obesity, lack of exercise, and jobs requiring long periods of standing.