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The connection between Varicose Veins and Heart Disease

The connection between Varicose Veins and Heart Disease

Varicose Veins are greenish bluish veins near the surface of the skin, usually on the legs and feet. Most people think of them as mainly a cosmetic problem, although Varicose Veins can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms from a heavy achy feeling in the legs to burning throbbing or itching sensation. Now new research suggests that people with Varicose Veins may also have a higher risk of developing a clot in the deeper veins of the leg known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT

It’s a good reminder for people with Varicose Veins to talk to their healthcare provider about their overall risk for vascular disease, says Doctor Gregory Piazza, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Most people with Varicose Veins will not experience a DVT, but still, it is important to know the warning signs of this potentially dangerous condition and to address any factors that might add to your risks such as smoking, high pressure, and elevated cholesterol


What is deep vein thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to a blood clot that forms in a deep vein usually in the calf or thigh but also in the pelvis or the arm. There are many triggers of DVT, for example, a traumatic injury, surgery, and laying in a hospital bed are common triggers. Sitting for long periods like at the time of long-distance travel leads to sluggish blood flow and a greater chance of having a clot. Cancer and some cancer treatments may also increase DVT risk. Finally, a small percentage of people have inherited or acquired genetic factors that make them more prone to clots.

DVT symptoms include swelling, discomfort, redness, and warmth in the affected area. But people sometimes mistake these symptoms for a bone or muscle injury or even nerve damage from diabetes. “If such symptoms linger for more than a few hours, especially in the absence of a known problem- call your doctor for advice.”, says Doctor Gregory Piazza, a Cardiologist

A DVT poses a very serious threat to a person if the clot breaks off and travels in the blood vessels to the lung, causing a blockage called a pulmonary embolism.

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include-

– a difficulty in breathing that happens suddenly without any explanation

– fast or irregular heartbeat

– chess pain or discomfort, which usually worsens with a deep breath for coughing

– coughing up blood

– feeling light-headed or faint

If you have these symptoms, especially if they worsen quickly in hours, call your doctor immediately.


Shared underline risks?

For the study, researchers compared nearly 2,13,000 people with Varicose Veins to a similar number of people of the same age and sex who did not have Varicose Veins. They found that DVT was about five times more likely among people with Varicose Veins. The observation may reflect shared factors that are common to both conditions.

According to various studies published in the journal of the American Medical Association, about one-quarter of adults have Varicose Veins and about half of these people have a family history of the problem.


Cause and treatment

Usually, one-way valves inside the veins prevent blood from flowing backward, help proper blood from the legs back up to the heart. But if those valves become deformed, they don’t close properly. Blood flows backward, pools, and enlarges the veins.

People who still have any symptoms despite any measures taken can undergo a treatment known as Vein Ablation, a minimally invasive procedure done under local anesthesia. The doctor threads a catheter into the faulty vein. Then applies heat in the form of laser or radiofrequency energy to collapse the vein and seal it shut.

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