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Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

CVI is a progressive medical condition that worsens over time and affects the veins and vessels in the leg that carry oxygen-poor blood back toward the heart. Varicose veins, which are enlarged veins in the leg that appear like twisted, bulging chords, can progress to CVI if left untreated.

There are a number of factors that contribute to Varicose veins and CVI, including pregnancy and heredity. As Varicose veins progress to become CVI, other painful and unsightly signs and symptoms like ankle swelling, fatigue, restlessness and pain of the legs, skin changes and ulcers may occur.

Varicose veins can be treated with various minimally-invasive treatments that are covered by many insurance plans. Unfortunately, while more than 30 million people in the United States suffer from venous disease, only 1.9 million seek treatment each year.

Who is at risk for CVI?

CVI can affect anyone; gender and age are large factors that may increase your risk for developing the disease. For example, women older than 50 are more likely than others to develop venous disease that can lead to CVI. The disease is very often hereditary and can affect several members of the same family.

Additionally, the following factors may increase your risk for developing Varicose veins that can progress to become CVI:

  • Family history of Varicose veins
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lifestyle that requires standing for long periods of time
  • Excess weight
  • Current or previous pregnancies

Can I prevent CVI?

For mild forms of venous disease, lifestyle changes may be recommended to control symptoms. When symptoms progress, they can be treated with numerous minimally-invasive procedures that are covered by many insurance plans. Managing risk factors such as blood pressure and weight and staying physically active can all help ease the pressure on the veins in the legs.

The following can also help control Varicose veins and other signs and symptoms:

  • Avoiding prolonged standing
  • Elevating the feet above the thighs when sitting, and above the heart when lying down
  • Avoiding clothes that are tight around the waist, thighs or legs
  • Strengthening calf muscles through an appropriate exercise plan

Since Varicose veins cannot always be prevented, it is important to talk to a vein specialist about treatment options before the condition progresses into CVI and symptoms worsen.

What can happen if I overlook my Varicose veins and symptoms of CVI?

Treatments to remove diseased veins can be effective in eliminating the Varicose veins and symptoms of CVI, and also preventing the condition from progressing. If left untreated, Varicose veins can progress to become CVI, a more serious form of venous disease that will often present increasingly worse signs and symptoms over time that may be more difficult to treat. Those can include ankle swelling, fatigue, restlessness and pain of the legs, skin damage and ulcers.

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