Your arteries carry blood from your heart out to the rest of your body. Your veins carry blood back to the heart, and valves in the veins stop the blood from flowing back. When your veins have trouble sending blood from your limbs back to the heart, it is called venous insufficiency (SVI). In this condition, blood does not flow back properly to the heart, causing blood to pool in your legs.

Several factors can cause SVI, though most commonly it’s caused by blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) and varicose veins.

Symptoms include pain, swelling, restless legs, itchy legs, skin discoloration and ulcers of the legs. Treatment options depend on the cause, but include prescription medications and vein closure procedures.

Even for if you have a family history of venous insufficiency, there are simple steps you can take to lessen your chances of developing the condition.

Causes of Venous Insufficiency

Most often, the condition is a result of blood clots or varicose veins. In varicose veins, the valves are often missing or impaired.)

SVI is more common in women than in men. According to The University of Chicago Medical Center, it is also more likely to occur in women between 40 and 49 and men between 70 and 79 (UCM), although may occur at any age. Other risk factors include:

  • blood clots
  • varicose veins
  • obesity
  • pregnancy
  • smoking
  • cancer
  • muscle weakness, leg injury, or trauma
  • swelling of a superficial vein (phlebitis)
  • family history of venous insufficiency
  • inactivity (sitting or standing for long periods of time without moving can     cause high blood pressure in the leg veins and increase risk)


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