Risk factors for venous insufficiency

Risk factors for venous insufficiency

The modern way of life, long sitting and standing, reduced physical activity, use of contraceptives, obesity and pregnancy with a genetic predisposition are the most significant risk factors.In venous insufficiency states, venous blood escapes from its normal antegrade path of flow and refluxes backward down the veins into an already congested leg. Venous insufficiency syndromes are most commonly caused by valvular incompetence in the low-pressure superficial venous system.

Leg muscles help move blood upward, but that function relies on a system of one-way valves in veins. They work against gravity, which tries to force blood downward. When valves stop sealing properly, varicosity results. Vein walls are pushed apart, resulting in chronic dilation.

Chronic venous insufficiency is a long-term condition. It is most commonly due to malfunctioning (incompetent) valves in the veins. It may also occur as the result of a past blood clot in the legs.

Risk factors for venous insufficiency include:

  • Age
  • Family history of this condition
  • Female gender (related to levels of the hormone progesterone)
  • History of deep vein thrombosis in the legs
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Tall height
  • Chronic (usually congenital) heart valve problems
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