Venous insufficiency is a medical condition that prevents the leg veins from functioning properly, meaning blood is unable to flow back to the heart. If you have this condition, you may be wondering what caused it. Many factors can contribute to the development of venous insufficiency, including age, gender, and lifestyle, along with genetics.
You can learn more about the link between genetics and this condition and what you can do to manage your symptoms below.
What Is Venous Insufficiency?
Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins in your legs can’t pump enough blood back to your heart. Leg veins contain special valves that are designed to ensure blood flows in the right direction (towards the heart). However, when the valves do not work properly, it can cause the blood to flow backwards or pool in the legs, leading to symptoms such as varicose veins, leg swelling, pain, and other complications. While venous insufficiency can affect anyone, some people may be more susceptible to it due to their genetics.
How Genetics Affects Venous Insufficiency
Although there are many different factors that can contribute to developing venous insufficiency, particularly smoking, carrying excess weight, a lack of exercise, or sitting or standing for long periods, recent studies haveshown that genetics play a role in the development of the condition, too.
Researchers have identified specific genes that may cause or contribute to venous insufficiency. A study published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery found that people with a family history of venous insufficiency were more than twice as likely to develop the condition than those without a family history of it.
Another genetic factor that may contribute to venous insufficiency is a mutation to a particular gene, known as the fibrillin-1 gene. This gene is responsible for producing a protein that helps support the structure of the veins. When the protein becomes defective due to a genetic mutation, veins can be weaker and may be more susceptible to damage, which can lead to venous insufficiency.
Other genetic factors that may increase the risk of venous insufficiency include:
- A family history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots
- Disorders affecting connective tissues,such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Marfan syndrome
- Abnormalities in the blood vessels, such as arteriovenous malformation
Management for Venous Insufficiency
While you can’t change your genetics, there are steps you can take to help manage venous insufficiency symptoms and prevent complications. Here are some tips:
- Stay active: Getting regular exercise, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, can help improve blood circulation in your legs and reduce your risk of blood clots.
- Wear compression stockings: These garments are designed to help improve blood flow in the legs and prevent blood from pooling in the veins.
- Elevate your legs: Propping your legs up above your heart level whenever possible can helpincrease blood flow, reduce swelling, and drain excess fluid from the legs.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on the veins and worsen your symptoms.
When To Visit a Vein Specialist
Venous insufficiency is not usually a serious health threat, but the condition can get progressively worse over time, and in severe cases, itcan cause complications, such as ulcers, which can be painful, disabling, and difficult to treat.
If you have symptoms of venous insufficiency, you should visit your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis, as the condition can share symptoms with other conditions. Your provider will assess your personal and family medical history and carry out a physical exam. They may recommend further tests, such as a Duplex ultrasound, to assess your blood flow and the structure of your leg veins.
If you are diagnosed with venous insufficiency, a cardiovascular specialist can work with you develop a customized treatment plan to help you manage your condition more successfully. Your age, overall health, medical history, severity of symptoms, and other factors will determine which treatments are best for your needs. Treatment for venous insufficiency may include:
- Conservative treatments, such as compression stockings and lifestyle changes.
- Medications to increase blood flow or to clear skin infections.
- Endovenous Laser Ablation or Radiofrequency Ablation –works by heating and shutting down the affected veins, which automatically reroutes blood flow to other nearby healthy veins.
- Sclerotherapy – Involves injecting a chemical solution into the affected vein to close it, causing blood to reroute to other veins.
- Surgery – In severe cases, if a vein is heavily damaged, surgery may be necessary to tie off or remove the affected vein (vein stripping). Another procedure,known as vein stenting, which involves placing a stent in the vein to help keep it open,may be necessary for patients who are at increased risk of developing DVT in the legs.
The connection between genetics and venous insufficiency is becoming more apparent as researchers study this condition. While you can’t control your genetics, you can take steps to manage your symptoms and reduce your risk of complications. If you have a family history of venous insufficiency or are concerned about your risk, consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice. With the right treatments and lifestyle changes, you canimprove your symptoms and overall quality of life.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency Treatment in Boca Raton
If you have signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency, don’t delay; visit the Vein Clinic at Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute for expert care. We provide comprehensive services for a wide variety of venous conditions, with a focus on the causes and symptoms of venous and varicose disease and vein disease, swelling, pain, discoloration, and ulceration.
To learn more about our vein clinic or any of our otherservices, or to schedule a consultation with one of board-certified cardiologists, call us today at (561) 235-5621 or use our convenient, online Request an Appointment form.