There may be more to your varicose veins than meets the eye.
Blood clots, ulcers and other concerns could loom
Often women with varicose veins – and some men too – visit a vein specialist with thoughts of looking better in shorts or a swimsuit. But many come away surprised to learn this seemingly cosmetic problem could be tied to serious health risks.
Dr. Nick Morrison is the founder of the Morrison Vein Institute in Scottsdale and Tempe, Ariz. He is a world-renowned phlebologist and the past president of the American College of Phlebology. Morrison has seen many patient consultations where the conversation shifts from aesthetics to potentially life-saving lifestyle changes and treatment options.
“I’ll ask if the legs are feeling itchy. Are they swelling? Do your legs feel heavy when you stand on them for a long time? Do you have a family history of varicose veins or stroke? These are very important questions that could say a lot about what’s happening under that surface vein problem,” Morrison adds.
Varicose veins occur when a vein’s valves stop functioning properly. With these faulty valves, instead of blood flowing in one direction toward the heart, as it should, it now moves in both directions and pools in areas of the vein. These pools of blood can then be seen on the skin’s surface.
And there can be so much more to the story, Morrison says.
Varicose veins are also associated with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which can bring leg swelling as a result of increased blood pressure in poorly functioning veins. The condition most commonly occurs as a result of a blood clot in a deep, larger vein, which is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
DVT is particularly dangerous, as a Pulmonary Embolism (PE) could occur if the clot breaks free and travels to the lungs. PE is responsible for between 60,000 and 100,000 deaths each year.
More superficial blood clots are referred to as phlebitis, or thrombophlebitis, and can produce pain and swelling. But phlebitis is far less serious than DVT since it occurs in smaller veins closer to the skin’s surface.
“Often times a patient may see a new varicose vein and it’s a call to action for them. With a checkup they can now explore what’s going on under the surface,” Morrison adds.
For checkups, Morrison conducts a venous reflux study, which involves an ultrasound of the leg. The non-invasive approach is welcomed over the sometimes uncomfortable venogram method, which uses an x-ray and dyes to view veins. The ultrasound and detailed family history allow Morrison’s team to create a treatment map. Patients can be in and out in less than an hour and leave with a wealth of information about the current state of their venous system.
“Many types of insurances cover testing because they want to rule out DVT or blood clots,” Morrison adds. “You can’t just treat the surface veins. The patient needs to understand the whole picture.”Az Republic Gallery
I appreciate Dr. Fronek, my family, my patients, my Morrison Vein family!
Originally posted on Helane Fronek, MD Coaching and Consulting:
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In a recent medical school class, we discussed our experiences of grief and loss. We each experience many losses, and so do our patients. In fact, sometimes it feels as if much of medical care involves dealing with loss of one sort or another. Until we are comfortable with our own grief, it’s difficult to witness and be present for our patients when they feel this deep emotion. So in this class, we share our…
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Are varicose veins the sign of a bigger health problem?
There are plenty of major diseases on the public radar. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity gather the bulk of media attention. But with about 50 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 60 having some form of vein disease and varicose veins found in patients as young as 11 years old, Americans are now faced with another growing and potentially life-threatening health concern.
Veins are the key to a healthy heart and body. They pump blood back to the heart to be re-charged with oxygen. Veins have valves that open and close when the body’s muscles contract and relax, keeping blood flowing in one direction. When the valves don’t work properly, blood flows in both directions leading to vein disease. Continue reading below..
“So many people see they have varicose veins and it doesn’t occur to them that there could be a bigger problem,” said Dr. Nick Morrison, a world-renowned phlebologist and founder of the Morrison Vein Institute, with offices in Scottsdale and Tempe, Ariz. “What they may not understand is that if they develop a deep vein clot (DVT) as a result of poor venous blood flow, it could lead to life-long disability or even death.”
Each year, the US sees between 300,000 to 600,000 cases of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot in a deep vein, and Pulmonary Embolism (PE), when the blood clot breaks free and travels to the lung. Roughly 60,000 to 100,000 people die from DVT and PE every year. Many of those with DVT or PE also have complications like leg pain and swelling that can greatly hinder quality of life.
Vein disease does not discriminate by age, gender or race, and often brings a hereditary link. At least 75 percent of patients with varicose veins have a family history. If both parents have varicose veins, there’s a 90 percent chance the child will develop them as well.
Morrison cautions that vein disease symptoms can sometimes be as subtle as the mere appearance of varicose veins, but could also become more pronounced. Some of the more common symptoms include: leg swelling, warmth in the skin, itching, redness and leg fatigue. Rapid pulse, feeling lightheaded and chest pain for a person with vein problems could also be the signs of a serious health condition.
Because of the hereditary nature of vein disease, cure is not possible. But early diagnosis and treatment can lead to an improved quality of life. Removing unwanted veins using advanced methods like thermal ablation, foam sclerotherapy, wearing compression stockings and making important diet and lifestyle changes can make a profound positive impact on a person’s life.
“There are so many simple changes like increasing physical activity and weight loss that can help patients live healthy, productive and pain-free lives. But it is important to identify the issues first. A vein screening is a must,” he said.
Checkups, changing perceptions
In November, the Morrison Vein Institute initiated its vFree (Vein Disease Free) campaign. It runs through the end of 2015 and offers free vein checkups. Patients can also visit the institute’s website to take the online vFree quiz, a private and confidential self assessment that helps patients make informed decisions about the current state of their veins.
Morrison hopes to expand the conversation about vein health, making it less about cosmetic concerns and more focused on the core issue of health. Since vein disease is often hereditary, it’s extremely important for loved ones to have candid conversations with their siblings about getting checkups and living a vein healthy lifestyle.
“Many times someone will try to hide their unsightly veins instead of addressing them. It’s imperative that we pull the mask off the assumption that varicose veins are merely cosmetic,” he added.
Join the vFree Revolution Today
Unsightly veins on your legs could be a sign of a more serious health condition.
If varicose veins are present, you are at a heightened risk of developing life threatening conditions if they are not treated.
Vein Disease does not discriminate by age, race or gender. In fact, a staggering one in three Americans over the age of 45 has some kind of vein disease. Why aren’t more people talking about it?
In order to increase awareness, Morrison Vein Institute is spearheading a vFree (vein disease free) campaign this November until the end of 2015. We are encouraging everyone to be proactive and have their veins checked to assure they are vein disease free.
While venous disease is inherited and incurable, it can be easily treated by eliminating symptoms, removing visible unwanted veins and maintaining healthy legs. Our hope is that more people will take action with the vFree checkup.
To turn the spotlight on vein disease, we are asking everyone to spread the word! Many times someone will try and hide their unsightly veins instead of addressing them. It is imperative that we pull the mask off the assumption that varicose veins are merely cosmetic. READ MORE
Originally posted on Cristian Mihai:
I often say that art is a matter of faith. That you have to believe in what you’re doing. You have to believe in the world you’re creating, in yourself, in your capabilities. Leave no room for doubt, petty frustrations, or insecurities.
I also say that it’s all just a matter of hard work. But sometimes you hit a wall. You’ve run out of things to say. You feel void of motivation, inspiration, or courage. What once brought you great pleasure, it’s now a tedious task.
Yes. We need to act upon our dreams, but we must never forget to dream. To hope. To aspire. To believe.
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