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 is a disorder that prevents blood in the upper and lower extremities to flow back to the heart through the valves of the veins that should normally function in keeping the direction of blood flow, 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 the medical condition include being overweight, smoking, a family history of varicose veins, among others.
Venous stasis requires medical follow up, as it is a harmful medical condition that can get worse with time, if left untreated.
1. Symptoms that affect the extremities.
Any of these symptoms may be present: swelling of the legs, itching and tingling, cramping, dull aching, a heaviness sensation, redness of the skin on the 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 but 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 1 in 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 at risk to the potential development of the condition, but there are population groups that are considerably at more risk than others.
Among the high risk population group that needs to take good care of their extremities the most are 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 avoidable risk factors is sedentary lifestyle, preventive measures should focus on lifestyle improvement 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. This can help to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Compression stockings can be bought over-the-counter. You can also get compression socks here.
Another option is following a daily exercise routine, like walking or doing calf exercises, which can increase blood flow. After sitting for a while, keeping your legs raised above the 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/s.
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 hyperpigmentation, 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 blood 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 when 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 salt water solution into the 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 in mitigating the risk.
A healthy diet can help us prevent and reduce the risk of 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 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 best 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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