As many as 7 million Americans suffer from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a serious vein disease that interferes with circulation. In CVI, tiny valves inside your veins malfunction, allowing blood to “pool up” and flow backward, leading to significant problems with the way your blood flows.
While CVI can affect nearly anyone, it tends to happen more frequently among people with specific risk factors. Recognizing those risk factors could help you avoid dangerous blood clots and other CVI complications.
With offices in Glendale, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Anthem, Avondale, Laveen Village, and Black Canyon City, Arizona, Phoenix Heart, PLLC, offers preventive care along with state-of-the-art vein treatments for CVI and other circulation disorders.
Take a moment as our team reviews some of the most common CVI risk factors to help you enjoy optimal vascular health.
History of deep vein thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that develops when blood clots form in your deeper veins, typically in your legs. These clots damage the tiny valves inside the veins, and if they break free, the clots can cause life-threatening problems. If you have a personal history of DVT, your risk of CVI is significantly higher.
Over age 50
As with many other medical problems, CVI grows more common as we get older. Primarily, that’s because our veins have been subjected to years of wear and tear, leading to weak vein valves and an increased risk of other circulation problems, along with high blood pressure.
Physical activity strengthens your calf muscles, which actually play a pretty big role in returning blood from your feet and lower legs to your lungs and heart. If you don’t get a lot of exercise, your calf muscles can weaken, impairing this aspect of your circulation.
This condition also happens among people who spend a lot of time sitting or standing in one position.
Use of hormone products
Hormonal birth control methods and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) both can affect blood flow and vein health, increasing your risks of both CVI and DVT. If you use products containing estrogen, it’s important to discuss your risks with your doctor and take the lowest effective dose.
Some leg injuries, including many fractures and soft tissue injuries, interrupt normal leg circulation, potentially increasing your risk of CVI. Leg surgery may also increase your risk.
Chemicals contained in tobacco products contribute to inflammation inside your blood vessels. increasing your risk of CVI. At the same time, smoking impairs overall cardiovascular health and wellness, elevating your risk for all types of vein and artery diseases.
Personal or family history of varicose veins
Varicose veins are another common circulation problem that tends to become more common with age. If you have a personal or family history of varicose veins, you also have an elevated risk of CVI.
Pregnancy increases the risk of CVI in a couple of ways. First, hormonal fluctuations can contribute to valve weakening, which plays a role in CVI. Second, the increase in weight and pressure from your growing belly puts more pressure on your pelvic and leg veins, interfering with normal circulation.
Obesity also puts more pressure on your leg veins, making it harder for blood to circulate normally and potentially weakening the valves inside your veins. Plus, people who are obese are more likely to have hypertension and high cholesterol, conditions that can also impair vein health.
Finally, women also tend to have a higher risk of CVI. That’s likely because of their naturally higher levels of estrogen, along with hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy and menopause. Use of hormonal birth control and HRT may also increase the gender-related risk.
Having CVI risk factors doesn’t mean you'll definitely develop CVI, but it does mean you need to be extra vigilant about your vein health. To learn more about CVI or to schedule a vein health evaluation, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Phoenix Heart, PLLC, today.