About 55% of women and 45% of men in the United States have some type of vein problem. Looking at this figure, it’s safe to say every other person suffers from a vein problem in one form or another. One common manifestation is chronic venous insufficiency, wherein the normal blood flow through the veins is impaired.
Venous Obstruction: The Culprit
Venous obstruction is one of the biggest causes of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
Healthy veins have constant blood flow from the limbs toward the heart. When the forward flow is obstructed, such as in a blood clot, blood builds below the clot and may result in venous insufficiency.
In healthy leg veins, the valves should prevent blood backflow. If the valves are damaged or missing, as in the case with varicose veins, they’re unable to prevent backward leakage. This can also contribute to venous insufficiency.
In some cases, CVI follows deep vein thrombosis, a condition marked by a blood clot in the deep veins. When the symptoms are left to develop, you may require post-thrombotic syndrome treatment, a costly and burdensome complication.
200% More Risk for Women Over 50
About 25 million Americans have conditions associated with CVI, including varicose veins and discoloration of the legs. Research indicates that being a woman over 50 makes you twice as likely to have problems in the leg vein, hence making you significantly more susceptible to CVI.
There are various reasons women are more at risk. One is pregnancy. Carrying a baby places an abnormal strain on the veins, causing them to enlarge and eventually become damaged.
Another factor is the estrogen. It “relaxes” the walls of the veins and makes them more prone to leakages. Changing hormone levels can also have the same effect on the vein walls, such as in birth control pills and medicines containing estrogen.
Now, age and gender, among other factors, play a part in the development of CVI. If being a woman over 50 makes you more likely to have CVI, an inactive lifestyle on top of that puts you at an ever higher risk.
You can’t do anything about being a woman, but you can certainly do something about your lifestyle. For now, know the risks, and stay as active and healthy as possible.