The Effects of Chronic Venous Insufficiency on Your Daily Life

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Chronic venous insufficiency is a venous disease that is caused by a number of factors including but not limited to varicose veins. It’s merely a direct consequence of insufficient blood flow from your legs to your heart. While the symptoms can be identified by professional vein doctors, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a chronic venous disease that has the potential to turn your life upside down. 

So what are the effects of chronic venous insufficiency on your daily life? Apart from medication, post-operative care, and stringent management practices, it will also affect the quality of your life. Most people are severely under-informed about the consequences of living with chronic venous insufficiency and the toll it can take on your life. At the very least, you will have to incorporate several lifestyle and routine changes to keep it under check. 

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Impact of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Recovery from chronic venous insufficiency can be a long, grueling road that requires patience. It can have an adverse effect on both your physical health and your mental health. 

Not to mention that it could easily be misdiagnosed by healthcare providers if they’re not aware of the symptoms of chronic venous disease. This will only prolong the suffering of the patient, and as such, it’s important that you are aware of the impact this venous disease can have on your overall well-being. 

Impact on Physical Health

Patients who have been dealing with chronic vein insufficiency are likely to experience the following: 

  • Insatiable pain in their legs
  • Persistent pain that is akin to pin pricks around their lower limbs
  • Erratic and disturbed sleep patterns
  • Development of varicose veins
  • Deep vein thrombosis is a common manifestation along with abnormal lower limb symptoms
  • Discomfort while walking 
  • Experience chronic fatigue without much physical exertion. 
  • Blueish blood clots in the leg
  • Swollen legs that pain when moved due to venous reflux
  • Acute and recurring cramps near the affected veins

All of these can cause your physical health and functioning to deteriorate at a rapid rate. It’s a long-time struggle with a vicious cycle of unbearable pain, cramps, and intensive swelling. As mentioned earlier, most of these are directly caused by an inadequate flow of blood in key veins that flow from your legs to your heart. The malfunctioning of valves that are critical in regulating blood flow in the lower limbs leads to chronic venous insufficiency. 

An undiagnosed and untreated venous disease would cause the unoxygenated blood to flow in the reverse direction. This can cause blood to trickle back and accumulate around the varicose veins. Pooling of blood around the varicose vein leads to developing a condition called skin ulcers, which can cause the skin around the affected veins to become infected, itchy, and irritated. This state will only worsen and become permanent if left too late for treatment. 

Ultimately, these venous ulcers caused by venous insufficiency can cause the veins to tighten up and restrict the blood flow through the venous valve even further. Chronic venous illness progresses more rapidly as a result of this.

Impact on Mental Health

It’s inevitable for any physical ailment to have an impact on the mental health of the patient as well. This is especially true in the case of chronic venous insufficiency. The following are some of the common mental health issues that arise due to this venous disease: 

  • Suffering from pain over a substantial period of time will take a mental toll by depriving the patient of mental peace. 
  • Due to the disturbed sleep cycle, it makes it difficult for the patient to take rest and rejuvenate. This leads to becoming sleep-deprived and even insomnia. 
  • Many careers and dreams depend on the ability to stand on two legs. Chronic venous insufficiency can cause lower limb symptoms such as varicose veins, venous ulceration, and cramps which can adversely debilitate the movement of the legs. This does hinder the patient’s ability to continue working towards their career/dream which in turn could give rise to depression and anxiety. 
  • Venous hypertension is a common symptom of this disease that could elevate blood pressure and stress levels. 
  • In some cases, the progression of venous insufficiency could require a vascular surgery followed up by extensive postoperative management, clinic visits, and physical therapy. All of these take a tremendous toll on the mental health of the patient and could cause them to go through bouts of frustration, irritation and overall make them miserable.
  • This perpetual state of misery could affect the family of the patients as well which affects the entire living environment.  

General Prognosis of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Back of legs having chronic venous insufficiency held by hands with blue gloves.

The prognosis for chronic venous insufficiency declines if proper healthcare isn’t provided at the right time. Often, it can be left undiagnosed which causes the venous disease to advance into later stages which have more complications associated with it. Here are the 7 stages of CVI: 

Stage of Venous InsufficiencyCVD Symptoms and Features
Stage 1 (C0)Initial stage which does not have any physical manifestation or lower limb symptoms. 
Stage 2 (C1)Occurrence of spider veins which are also known as reticular veins. 
Stage 3 (C2)Varicose veins can be identified along with venous reflux and lower extremity pain. 
Stage 4 (C3)Onset of Edema is an indicator of this stage. However, no skin changes or leg ulcers appear. 
Stage 5 (C4)There’s a significant amount of skin discoloration and loss in pigmentation around the varicose veins. Superficial vein thrombosis and swelling are common features of this stage. 
Stage 6 (C5)Self-treatable leg ulcers start to appear. Each vein ulcer gets healed in 3 to 5 days. 
Stage 7 (C6)Acute leg ulcers cover the portion of the legs where the venous valve has failed.

The last stage of CVI can be accompanied by a variety of complications such as:

  1. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
  2. Post-thrombotic syndrome
  3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  4. Increased likelihood of heart disease

Studies on Quality of Life of Patients Diagnosed With Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic venous disease (CVD) can severely affect the quality of life of patients and is one of the most under-researched areas of medical diagnosis around the world. Since venous symptoms can be naked to the eye, they are often passed off as something benign and not taken seriously. Misdiagnosis and late identification of CVD symptoms are perhaps the most common reason for it progressing to advanced stages. 

Millions of people around the world suffer from CVD and most of them remain unaware of the ramifications of this disease if left untreated. Due to the need to develop effective treatment methodologies for this disease, several studies have been conducted around the world by leading healthcare organizations such as the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization.

One particularly interesting research paper published in Spandidos publications indicates that the likelihood of CVD is more pronounced in females and in patients in the age group of 50 to 70 years. A national venous screening program conducted by the Dallas Vein Institute points to similar conclusions along with the fact that nearly 4 in 10 people are at risk of stage 2 venous insufficiency while about 1 in 200 are prone to developing leg ulcers.

After sifting through several reports and studies conducted by various organizations the following can be observed: 

  1. Quality of life has fallen below the threshold level for more than 63% of patients diagnosed with chronic venous disease
  2. Almost every second patient with CVD has unbearable pain levels that impair their ability to stick to a daily routine
  3. Physical therapy and exercise have shown promising results
  4. Most patients claimed that their second biggest issue apart from pain was the inability to follow a sleep cycle
  5. Daily mundane activities have become arduous labor for patients recovering from venous insufficiency 

American Heart Association

The American Heart Association conducted a research study on CVI that found:

  • Nearly 25 million patients suffer from venous diseases out of which a quarter of them have CVI in the advanced stages.
  • 1 out of 3 patients with long-term leg pain and cramps were found to have undiagnosed varicose veins
  • It further reiterated the aforementioned point that it is more prevalent amongst females as compared to males in a 3:1 ratio. 
  • Undiagnosed CVI can lead to heart diseases and other cardiovascular syndromes
  • Varicose veins are more common in wealthy, industrial countries than in developing countries. Prior history of varicose veins along with other factors such as sex, age, pregnancy, obesity, phlebitis, and a medical record of leg injuries have all been linked to CVI.

World Health Organization Reports

The World Health Organization has taken the research of venous diseases seriously and has released several reports about the field. These reports have stated the following findings: 

  • Common manifestations of chronic venous insufficiency include venous thromboembolism, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Remaining physically inactive for hours upon hours is associated with an elevated risk of developing CVI
  • It recommends identification and treatment before progression of CVI into thromboembolism as the prognosis past that stage is poor 
  • The study also indicates a correlation between travel, obesity, and CVI 

Edinburgh Vein Study

Edinburg Vein Study conducts a random sampling survey to identify the risk factors that contribute to the development of CVI in the general population. A longitudinal cohort study used a lower extremity duplex ultrasound to screen 1566 subjects to find cases of CVI. It was observed that when venous reflux was taken as the primary factor over a history of 13 years, 9.4% of men suffer from CVI while 6.6% suffer from CVI. 

Nottingham Health Profile

The Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) has been a metric that has been used to assess the quality of life of patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency accompanied by leg ulcers. After observing patients over a period of 12 weeks, the information collected was used to track the progression of the leg ulcerations and their overall health. 

It was found that nearly 37% of patients were able to achieve a full recovery. The concerning aspects of the patient’s health were their propensity towards social isolation, subpar emotional status, and energy levels.

Life With Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Fat woman shows eat less salt text on her palm.

There is several changes that need to take place in the life of patients who are recovering from chronic venous insufficiency. These include lifestyle and management changes that help reduce the long-term effects while also helping the patient return to a certain degree of normalcy. Management changes refer to post-operative care, lifestyle changes,  increased physical activity, physical therapy, etc.

Management Changes to Lifestyle

  1. It’s preferable to wear loose clothing that won’t further restrict the blood flow. 
  2. Use compression stockings and wear them over the affected part of the legs. These garments will help redirect the venous reflux in the right direction and prevent the blood from pooling by applying varying levels of pressure across the legs. 
  3. An increased amount of physical activity is mandated as a long period of inactivity increases the possibility of venous diseases reoccurring. 
  4. Dietary changes are also inevitable as patients must avoid the intake of salty food. This is because the increased level of sodium in the body enhances water retention and this excess water leads to further swelling of the veins.
  5. While physical exercise and therapy are recommended, it’s also seen that standing or sitting for long periods of time contributes to the risk of CVD symptoms resurfacing. This can be averted by raising the legs to a certain angle without crossing them, as the elevation will help promote circulation in the lower limbs. 
  6. Obesity has a strong association with CVI and hence it is recommended to maintain a healthy body weight and BMI.  

Measures to Prevent Debilitating Long-Term Effects 

Here is a summary of things to keep in mind to prevent debilitating long-term effects of CVI: 

  1. Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking
  2. Maintain a regular and disciplined exercise regiment
  3. Drink plenty of fluids
  4. Make sure you stick to your antibiotics prescribed by your doctor
  5. Maintain good skin health and hygiene practices
  6. Regularly attend your physiotherapy sessions if they are prescribed
  7. Schedule appointments with your doctor for check-ups

Consult About Chronic Venous Insufficiency with the Vein Center Doctor

Here at the Vein Center Doctor, we prioritize your vein health by identifying the symptoms at the earliest stage of disease development as possible. We take proactive measures, perform minimally invasive surgeries, and follow treatment procedures that will help you get back on track to peak physical fitness. Our team of surgeons and internal medicine specialists will coordinate to set you on course for the best treatment plan for you. 

We also have a state-of-the-art outpatient vein care center that will help you get access to high-quality patient care for venous diseases such as chronic venous insufficiency. Dr. Rahul Sood leads a team of expert vein specialists who are skilled and trained in executing these procedures. For a no-obligation consultation, get in touch with us today.

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