Our hearts pump blood through a system of blood vessels. There are two main types: arteries and veins. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart and veins return oxygen-poor blood back to the heart.
Veins are flexible, hollow tubes with flaps inside called valves. When your muscles contract, the valves open and allow blood to move through the veins. When your muscles relax, the valves close, keeping blood flowing in one direction through the veins. If the valves inside your veins become damaged as a result of venous disease, the valves may not close completely, allowing blood to leak backward or flow in both directions.
Due to this venous insufficiency, blood clots can form in your deep veins, usually in your legs or pelvic area. This is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They can break loose and travel through your bloodstream to your lungs, where they can inhibit blood flow, causing a condition called pulmonary embolism. This condition is life threatening and needs immediate medical attention.
Venous diseases include:
- Blood clots
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Superficial venous thrombosis or phlebitis
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- May Thurner Syndrome (unilateral leg swelling)
- Varicose and spider veins
You might be at higher risk of DVT because of genetics or family history. Other things that can increase this risk include sitting for a long time (like in a car or on a plane), long-term bed rest, pregnancy, or using birth control pills or hormone replacement.
Several non-surgical and surgical treatment options are available for each of these types of venous diseases. The goals of treatment are to reduce symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Your provider will recommend the treatment option that is right for you. Before choosing a treatment, it is important to discuss the potential benefits, risks and side effects with your provider. You will also receive specific guidelines to help you prepare for any procedure, as well as specific instructions to help your recovery.