- Overview of Varicose Veins
- Understanding DVT
- Causes of DVT and Varicose Veins
- Impact of Varicose Veins on Blood Flow
- Do Varicose Veins Increase the Risk of DVT
- DVT Prevention
Varicose veins are one of many potential conditions that may indicate a greater risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot inside the deep-tissue veins. If left untreated, DVT can cause a pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening medical emergency that needs prompt attention. While DVT can form on its own, it can also result from the same disease process that causes varicose veins. Varicose veins usually affect the veins near the surface of the skin while deep vein thrombosis targets veins embedded deeper in the limb.
Several risk factors can increase your risk of developing varicose veins and DVT, including genetics and lifestyle choices. Neither varicose veins nor DVT resolve on their own. If you have unsightly varicose veins, painful symptoms, or a family history of vein issues, schedule a consultation with a vein expert to learn more about treatment options.
Read more to learn about how varicose veins indicate an increased risk of DVT.
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins close to the skin’s surface that result from a dysfunction in your circulatory system called vein disease, or venous insufficiency. Over time, the walls of your veins can lose their shape, causing the one-way valves that direct blood to your heart to fail. Blood then pools in the veins in the lower extremities, putting increased pressure on the vein walls.
The vein walls begin to expand and visibly surface outwards, appearing as bulging, tangled tubes. Varicose veins can have a discolored appearance and become itchy and painful. As the condition worsens, swelling in the lower extremities may occur, limiting physical activity and negatively affecting quality of life.
Varicose veins are a common condition. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of adults will develop varicose veins at some point in their lives, though they are more prevalent in women than men.
DVT is a thrombus, or blood clot, that forms in one of the deep veins. Deep veins run vertically alongside the bones beneath the muscle and other tissues and are responsible for pushing blood to your heart for recirculation.
When inflammation causes blood to move slowly through varicose veins, platelets can clump together and form a clot. The clot can restrict blood from returning to the heart, causing a “backup” in the veins below.
The pooled blood exerts a tremendous amount of pressure on the veins and surrounding tissues. Swelling, pain, redness (rash-like appearance), and warmth can all occur at or near the site of the clot.
If any piece of the clot breaks off, it can travel up to the heart and become stuck in the pulmonary artery or one of the smaller blood vessels in the lungs, causing a condition called pulmonary embolism. This is a medical emergency that has a high chance of severe complications, including death.
Although USA Vein Clinics does not provide initial treatment for DVT or pulmonary embolism, our highly-skilled vascular specialists can help monitor the condition. If you suspect you have one of these conditions, you should seek immediate medical attention.
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Since DVT and varicose veins both involve dysfunction of the veins, it shouldn’t be surprising that they share similar potential causes. We’ll look at the causes of DVT first.
Causes of DVT
As with many medical conditions, genetics and lifestyle choices are the primary causes of DVT. If you have any of the risk factors below, you may have a higher likelihood of developing DVT in the future:
- Recent trauma (including surgery)
- Family history of DVT or circulatory disease
- Being older than 60 increases the risk of DVT
- Prolonged sitting or standing every day
- Having a condition like lupus, heart disease or Cancer
- Varicose veins
Causes of Varicose Veins
If someone in your family has varicose veins, you have a higher probability of developing the condition. Genetics, age, and lifestyle choices can all contribute to the development of varicose veins. These factors include:
- Family history of vein disease
- Being 50 years or older
- Prolonged sitting or standing
Since varicose veins and DVT share many underlying risk factors, it’s important to consult a vein specialist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment of your symptoms.
Varicose veins cause blood to flow inadequately and in the wrong direction. Since varicose veins are dilated (wider), and the valves don’t function as they should, blood moves with gravity, flowing downward and away from the heart instead of towards it.
When deoxygenated blood can’t be returned to the heart, it begins to pool in the veins of the lower extremities. Blood moves slowly through the dilated veins, causing inflammation within the vein. Inflammation in the veins combined with slow-moving blood are key factors that cause blood to clot. However, it’s important to note that blood clots associated with varicose veins are generally superficial and do not tend to pose the same threat as DVT.
Maintaining a healthy venous system can help the circulation issues that lead to the development of varicose veins and DVT. It’s never too late to address venous insufficiency and start treating your varicose veins.
If you have questions about how to maintain healthy blood flow, 888.768.3467">talk to a vein specialist today.
Varicose veins are typically regarded as a minor risk factor for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). While many individuals with varicose veins may have an elevated risk of DVT, it’s important to note that a direct causal connection has not been conclusively established. DVT typically occurs within the deep veins, whereas varicose veins form near the surface of the skin, making it uncommon for DVT to develop directly within varicose veins themselves.
While varicose veins generally pose no danger, they do indicate an issue in your venous system that should be addressed as soon as possible. Deep Vein Thrombosis can begin to develop with or without noticeable symptoms, progressing over time until it becomes a medical emergency.
The causes and symptoms of varicose veins and DVT can be similar. It’s important to have your venous system evaluated by a professional for an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. If you suspect you have DVT, seek medical care at once.
Some things, such as your genetics, are beyond your control. However, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing DVT and varicose veins:
- Mobility: Avoid prolonged immobility. If you’re traveling for long periods (e.g., long-haul flights), try to walk around every 1-2 hours. Perform seated exercises, like flexing and extending your ankles, to promote blood circulation.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water, especially during long trips, to help prevent dehydration, which can make your blood more viscous.
- Compression Stockings: These help improve blood circulation and can be especially helpful for those at risk of DVT, such as post-surgical patients or those with a history of DVT.
- Avoid Crossing Legs: Sitting with crossed legs for long periods can impede blood flow.Healthy
- Weight: Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the risk of DVT.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking affects blood circulation and can increase the risk of DVT.
- Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity promotes good circulation. However, if you’ve had a DVT before or are at high risk, consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
- Limit Alcohol Intake: Excessive alcohol can lead to dehydration.
- Regular Medical Check-ups: An important measure you can take to lower the risk of DVT and varicose veins is seeing a qualified vein specialist for an evaluation. A professional can recommend treatments you may need to find relief from the symptoms of varicose veins.
Importance of Awareness and Early Detection
Early detection of varicose veins and DVT symptoms can help you avoid costly medical procedures and health consequences. A vein specialist can use ultrasound imaging to take a closer look at the state of your venous system, allowing them to recommend treatment and lifestyle changes before the issue develops further. If DVT is allowed to develop to the point that it causes a pulmonary embolism, you will need emergency, potentially life-saving medical treatment.
While the risk of varicose veins increases after the age of 50, they can develop at any age. More than 80 million Americans live with venous disease, many of them are young adults who may not recognize the condition. Being aware of the symptoms of vein disease and your potential risk factors can help you seek early treatment.
As with all health issues, early detection is the key to prevention. The earlier you start addressing your vein problems, the better your outcomes will be.
Don’t wait for symptoms to worsen. Speak to one of our experts.
Schedule a Consultation with USA Vein Clinics
USA Vein Clinics offers the most advanced treatments available for varicose veins. Our minimally invasive, non-surgical treatments are quick (usually less than an hour) and require minimal recovery time.
We offer advanced vein treatments at state-of-the-art outpatient clinics nationwide. These treatments can help improve the blood flow within your veins and prevent the progression of venous disease. Our treatment options include:
- Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)
- Varithena Vein Treatment
- Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy
- Radiofrequency Ablation (Rfa)
- Visual Sclerotherapy
At USA Vein Clinics, our patients always come first. We will work diligently with you to improve your vein health. If you are concerned about varicose veins or spider veins and your risks of developing DVT, schedule a consultation today.