Varicose veins are swollen/bulging veins that can be seen through the skin. Veins are soft, thin-walled, specialized blood vessels that return deoxygenated blood from the outer limbs of the body back to the heart and lungs. Varicose veins occur when these veins become abnormally thick, and exhibit certain characteristics; including a bluish tint and twisting pattern - often resembling cords. Because of gravity and increased pressure upon the lower limbs, the back or inside of the legs, calves, and ankles have the greatest tendency to become varicosed.
For the majority of persons suffering from varicose veins, the condition is more of an unpleasant, cosmetic concern rather than a complication of the circulatory system; although having the condition may signal a risk factor for other, more serious circulatory disorders. Varicose veins are a very common affliction. Women are far more likely to experience this condition than men. In fact, upwards of 60% of all Americans will have varicose veins at some point in their lives. As well, this percentage increases with age.
The term "varicose" is Latin in origin and literally means to be "twisted." Thus, varicose veins are defined as "twisted," gnarled, and enlarged veins. The most common means of treatment is via self-help measures such as compression stockings.
However, herbal treatments are gaining in popularity as an adjunct treatment and, as current research indicates, may be as effective as many compression therapies. Alternative therapies continue to be the primary choice for many varicose vein sufferers, as surgical procedures for treatment are quite invasive and involve the closing or complete removal of the affected vein.
There are two classes of veins in the lower limbs:
Superficial - Veins, and branches of veins, closest to the skin. These veins are usually the ones to become varicosed (usually greater than 3mm in diameter). Communicator or perforator veins are also included in this category.
Deep - These veins are encased by muscle and connective tissue, which are the main suppliers of deoxygenated blood to both the lungs and heart. These veins have one-way valves which prevent varicositites from occurring. If deep veins become enlarged, immediate medical attention should be sought. This may indicate the formation of a blood clot, or thrombophlebitis.
These veins are encased by muscle and connective tissue, which are the main suppliers of deoxygenated blood to both the lungs and heart. These veins have one-way valves which prevent varicositites from occurring. If deep veins become enlarged, immediate medical attention should be sought. This may indicate the formation of a blood clot, or thrombophlebitis. Other conditions associated with abnormalities and/or enlargements of superficial veins include; venous lakes, reticular veins, and tengiectases.
Varicose veins are easily identified by their color and unique pattern, but rarely present with symptoms. Again, they are thought of as more of a cosmetic nuisance than health detriment. Symptoms that have been reported include: Leg Ache or Heaviness, Itching around one or more affected veins and discoloration near the ankles.
Varicose veins result from an increased elasticity of the vein wall. As we grow older, the valves in the veins may malfunction and cause blood, which should be traveling toward the heart, to pool in superficial veins. The result is an enlargement and bluish appearance in these veins. The bluish color is a direct result of varying amounts of deoxygenated blood in the vein(s) that is in a process of recirculation.
Varicose veins are far more common in individuals who sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, due to poor circulation. Other risk factors may include:
Age: The aging process wears down the functioning of the valves in the veins that help to regulate blood flow. This often leads to a valve malfunction; the primary cause of varicosity.
Genetics: If it a good chance that if someone else in your family has suffered from varicose veins, you will too.
Sex: 33% of all women will suffer from this condition, compared to only 17% of men. Hormonal changes, menopause, premenstruation, and pregnancy are also thought to be key contributors to varicose vein development. Women are more susceptible as female hormones are thought to weaken, or relax, vein walls.
Obesity: Carrying more weight puts additional stress/pressure upon your entire circulatory system.
Varicosities are usually determined by appearance. Your doctor may ask you to stand to look for additional signs of swelling. As well, you may be asked to describe any symptoms you are currently suffering from, as this may be an indication of a more severe, underlying condition. An ultrasound test can also be performed to eliminate the possibility of blood clot. If your worry is greater than what you're primary doctor is capable of dealing with, you'll likely be referred to either a dermatologist or phlebologist (doctor specializing in vein conditions).
Conventional Treatments for Vericose Veins include:
Compression Stockings: These elastic stockings are worn to prevent blood from flowing backwards by squeezing affected veins. They may also be recommended for persons with sores to promote the healing process, or to relieve any pain and swelling caused by varicose veins.
Sclerotherapy: A chemical is injected in to the small, or medium sized varicosity. The chemical irritates and scars the veins from the inside out. This prevents the vein from filling with blood and redirects flow to healthier veins.
Ablation: A catheter is inserted into the vein. Tiny electrodes located at the tip of the catheter heat the walls of the varicose vein and destroy the tissue.
Laser Stripping: A tiny fiber is inserted into a varicose vein via catheter. The fiber sends out laser energy that kills and closes the affected, or diseased portion, of the varicose vein.
Vein Stripping: After disconnecting and tying off all major varicose vein branches associated with the main superficial vein in your leg (saphenous vein), your physician will remove the saphenous vein. Small incision avulsion usually accompanies this procedure, and allows your physician the ability to remove varicosities via hooks passes through the small incisions.
Currently there is no way to completely prevent varicose veins. However, improving your circulation with nutritional supplements, regular exercise, and diet, can dramatically lessen the risk of development. As well, addressing certain nutrient deficiencies is key in maintaining vein health and integrity.
If a young woman wants to avoid this unpleasant condition later in life she must plan ahead and have a regular exercise pattern combined with diet and herbal supplements to aid in keeping her veins healthy. Vitamins alone cannot accomplish this. Botanicals can help, and of course, are a preventative supplemental alternative.
Cardiolin contains a potent, synergistic blend of botanicals, that have been clinically evaluated and shown to promote circulation and diminish the side effects associated with varicose veins. As the majority of insurance carriers do not cover the cost of cosmetic surgery, Cardiolin can be used as an alternative therapy for managing the symptoms associated with varicose veins and circulatory support, as well as to reduce the unsightly appearance of bulging, discolored veins.
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