What is Venous Stasis
Venous stasis, also known as venostasis, venous insufficiency or phlebostasis, is a medical condition involving the venous walls not working effectively:
– it prevents blood in the upper and lower extremities to flow back through the valves that should keep it from flowing backwards to the heart, causing fluid to pool in the legs, primarily.
Valve damage occurs as a result of aging, lack of physical activity or long periods of immobility related to activities such as driving, bed rest or hospitalization.
Other factors that may induce it include being overweight, smoking, a family history of varicose veins, among some others.
Venous stasis requires medical follow up, as it is a dangerous medical condition that can get worse with time, if left untreated.
1. Symptoms that affect the extremities.
Any one of these symptoms could be present: swelling of the legs, itching and tingling, cramping, dull aching, a heaviness sensation, redness of the skin on legs and ankles, superficial varicose veins, thickening and hardening of the skin on legs and ankles (also known as lipodermatosclerosis), or a pain that gets worse when standing and better when the legs are raised.
When two or more of these symptoms are present, it’s highly recommended to visit a doctor, as a correct diagnostic is decisive in the early stages of the disease.
2. It is a common disease.
Now that the majority of the urban population works inside buildings and modern lifestyle has reduced devotion to physical movement and exercise, venous stasis has become a common disease.
According to the Vascular Disease Foundation in 2015, approximately 100 million Americans, that is, around 33% of US population, show at least one of the symptoms previously mentioned. It means about one in about 3 Americans suffers from the disease, affecting their quality of life, and leading to even more mobility issues.
3. Population groups at risk.
Everyone with a sedentary lifestyle is exposed to potential development of the condition, but there are population groups that are considerably more at risk than others.
Among them are the population that needs to take care of their extremities the most such as the elders, pregnant women, smokers, anyone with a family history of venous disease, obese people, tall people, and women in general, due to higher levels of the progesterone hormone.
Since one of mainly avoidable risk factors is sedentary lifestyle, prevention measures should focus on it as a vital factor in the reduction of the possibility of succumbing to the disease.
Compression stockings are a good option, especially for those who need to remain seated for a while, as they are tighter at the ankles than at the top of the legs and help to reduce swelling and to relieve pain. It can be bought over the counter. You can also get compression socks here.
Another option is to increase daily exercise, like walking or doing calf exercises, which can increase blood flow. After sitting for a while, keeping your legs raised above your heart can reduce the swelling, too.
5. It commonly goes undiagnosed.
Due to the nature of the disease, it commonly goes without diagnosis.
One of the reasons for non-diagnosis is the refusal to see a doctor. Although it seems to be a low-risk disease, it can lead to serious complications.
Sometimes, it can be part of a totally different diagnosis, as well. In pregnant women, it can be an indicator of preeclampsia.
In some other cases, it can also be considered as part of the symptomatology of thrombosis. Always consult your physician in regards to any symptom.
Physicians use different methods to correctly diagnose venous stasis. One of them is based purely on physical examination and history, considering 5 symptoms and 6 signs, such as pain, cramps, heaviness, edema hyper pigmentation, pain with calf compression, and others.
Another test used is the vein reflux ultrasound, which can increase the chances of identifying vein insufficiencies, including detecting if a clot has developed in the leg veins.
The last most commonly used is the venogram, where the doctor will put an intravenous contrast dye into the veins, to provide a clear X-ray picture of the blood vessels.
There are different phases and levels of damage that can occur after an indicator of early venous stasis goes untreated.
Chronic venous insufficiency, postphlebetic syndrome, venous ulcer or stasis ulcer, deep vein thrombosis, superficial venous thrombosis, venous dermatitis, edema, and venous hypertension are considerably some complications of the medical condition.
Regular treatment methods include compression, wound care, medication, sclerotherapy – the injection of a salt water solution into spider veins or small varicose veins that cause them to collapse and disappear, endovenous thermal ablation – laser or high frequency radio to create intense local heat in the affected vein – and rarely, in extreme cases, surgery.
9. How nutrition can help us to mitigate the risk
A healthy diet can help us prevent and reduce risk for developing venous stasis, as it improves our overall wellness.
For example: blueberries repair damaged proteins in the blood vessel walls, avocados contain both vitamin C and E, two key vitamins for vascular health, ginger has the ability to dissolve fibrin in blood vessels and improve circulation, and finally, rosemary helps protect the tissues from free radical damage, since it contains ursolic acid, which strengthens the capillaries.
10. How to mitigate the disease
Once the disease has been diagnosed, it is important to follow medical directions.
Some non-invasive mitigation procedures include gradient compression, which depends on body position for better results. It is sufficient with highest compression at the ankle, while decreasing compression levels along the leg.
Post menopausal women found the use of myofascial release therapy in combination with kinesiotherapy to yield significant improvements in basal metabolism, intracellular water, diastolic blood pressure, venous blood flow velocity, pain, and emotional role, over a 10-week treatment period.
Also, the so- called Una Boot – rolled bandages with a combination of calamine lotion, glycerin, zinc oxide and gelatin – is now a mainstay of treatment for people with venous ulcers.
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