Veins and arteries are the pathways that make life possible within the human body. They transport blood to and from the heart on a never-ending basis, ensuring every organ and tissue in the body is functioning adequately.
Venous issues occur most often in the legs where the veins, which are responsible for returning blood back to the heart, become enlarged. This is due to increased pressure in the leg veins and the blood needing to transport against gravity’s flow.
Here are a few of the venous disorders worth keeping in mind.
Blood clots are often a natural, harmless occurrence. A scab from a simple cut on the hand is a basic example of the way clots are meant to stop outward bleeding. Those with hemophilia, a disorder which stops blood from clotting properly, can be at major risk after even minor injuries because they lack this defense mechanism.
While blood clots are usually helpful, clots that extend beyond their purpose can be dangerous. These clots can travel to other parts of the bloodstream (the lungs or brain, in worst cases) and cause blockages. Some people have one of several types of long term clotting conditions, and some cases are more isolated.
A variety of factors can cause blood clots including:
- Women using birth control
- Long term damage to veins and arteries
- Long periods without much movement
An extremely rare condition, Buerger’s disease generally affects the extremities of the body. Arms and legs particularly hands and feet will feel pain from the swelling veins and arteries that remove their blood supply. Evidence isn’t robust enough to link Buerger’s disease with tobacco use, but there’s a strong correlation between the two.
Peripheral Venous Disease
To return blood to the heart, veins use valves that keep blood flowing in only the desired direction. Peripheral venous disease is a broad category describing any time these valves fail to work correctly. This causes blood to flow in both directions and often leads to pooling and clots.
Peripheral venous disease is the primary basis for a few more specific disorders:
- Varicose veins: Mostly in the legs and feet, varicose veins are dark-colored, bulging veins
- Spider veins: A type of varicose vein, but smaller and often with red discoloration
- Venous insufficiency: peripheral venous disease specific to cases in the legs and feet
Aneurysms are much more common in arteries than veins, but those that do take place in veins can be cause for mild concern. An aneurysm is like a balloon full of blood, located along the wall of whichever vessel it inhabits.
On their own, aneurysms are generally low-risk as long as they don’t grow to an alarming size. However, like blood clots, they can travel to other areas of the bloodstream and become a problem. They can also cause plaque buildups, and may lead to discomfort when enlarged as they make contact with other internal organs. If any serious symptoms like those for blood clots are present, seek medical attention.
Vascular Diseases and Pain. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/vascular-diseases-pain
Blood clots. The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/blood-clots/basics/definition/sym-20050850
What is Vascular Disease? WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/vascular-disease#2