Monthly Archives: August 2010

Types of Blood Vessels

Blood vessels are part of the circulatory system that transports blood throughout the body. There are three major types of blood vessels.

1. Arteries

Arteries carry blood away from the heart. Both arteries and veins have the same structure with three layers: tunica intima, tunica media, and tunica adventitia. The largest artery is the aorta, which carries blood out of the heart.

2. Capillaries

Capillaries enable the exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and tissues. Capillaries consist of a layer of endothelium and occasional connective tissue. Capillaries are the smallest blood vessels.

3. Veins

Veins carry blood from the capillaries back toward the heart. Veins are either arterial or venous, depending on whether the blood in it is flowing away from (arterial) or toward (venous) the heart. Most veins carry deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart except for the pulmonary and umbilical veins. Veins are classified in a number of ways. Superficial veins are those that are close to the surface of the body and have no corresponding arteries. Deep veins are deeper in the body and have corresponding arteries. Pulmonary veins are a set of veins that deliver oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart. Systemic veins drain the tissues of the body and deliver deoxygenated blood to the heart.

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Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a common condition affecting 2-5% of Americans. CVI is a condition in which the veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart. Venous insufficiency is caused by problems in one or more deeper leg veins. Normally, valves in your veins keep your blood flowing so it does not collect in one place, but when the valves in varicose veins are damaged or missing, this causes the veins to remain filled with blood, especially when you are standing. This condition can also be caused by a blockage in a vein from a clot.

There are many factors that affect the risk of developing CVI. People who have a history of deep vein thrombosis in the legs or those who are considered obese have a greater chance of developing venous insufficiency. Women, specifically pregnant women are also more at risk. Additionally, being tall, increased age and existing genetic factors also come into play. Lastly, prolonged sitting or standing can cause CVI.

The symptoms are similar to varicose vein symptoms. Patients can experience dull aching, heaviness or cramping in their legs. Other symptoms include itching and tingling, pain when standing and swelling of the legs. People with chronic venous insufficiency may also have redness on their legs and ankles, superficial varicose veins, and ulcers near the legs and ankles.

If you think you may be suffering from Chronic Venous Insufficiency or have questions contact Reno Vein Clinic at (775) 329-3100 to schedule your free consultation.

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Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are specialized long socks, which are worn from the foot to the knee/thigh. These specialized stockings have a gradient of presser that makes it tighter in the foot and gradually less tight at the knee. Compression stockings can be worn to decrease swelling in the feet and to decrease the chance of blood clots and varicose veins.

The pressure in the stockings is graded and this allows for the stockings to constantly squeeze the leg muscles. This motion helps to drive blood back to the heart, reducing swelling and preventing the formation of blood clots.

Compression stockings are an excellent and simple method of treating disorders such as chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, lymphedema, post phlebitic syndrome and prevention of blood clots in the legs. The stockings do not eliminate varicose veins but do help reduce the swelling, aching and heaviness feeling that people with varicose veins experience. Wearing stockings during long plane rides is also recommended to decrease the probability of blood clot formation in legs. Compression stockings can be worn daily especially if a patient is at increased risk of blood clots. For those with varicose veins, venous ulcers and lymphedema, the stockings can be worn for years and even life. There are no complications associated with compression stockings. However, they do take time to adjust to and can be a little uncomfortable during warm weather.

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Baby Boomers and Vascular Health

The U.S. Census expects by 2015 there will be 87 million people age 55 and older. Since vascular disease primarily affects seniors, the number of vascular disease cases is expected to rise dramatically.

The vascular system is made up of arteries and veins that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout the body to organs, legs and the brain. As we age, the arteries and veins thicken with a buildup of plaque and cholesterol and get narrower. This restricts blood flow and can lead to dangerous vascular diseases that can cause strokes, ulcers and aneurysms.

Here are some practices that will have a positive impact on vascular health and keep baby boomers healthy and active for many years to come.

  • Up in Smoke- Stop smoking to lower your risk of having a stroke, heart attack or developing coronary heart disease.
  • Diet Right- Eating a healthy, low fat diet will keep weight from creeping on, give you more energy, prevent diseases, help you sleep better and help you age more gracefully.
  • Under Pressure- Take care of your blood pressure to keep it in a normal range.
  • Get Movin’- Exercise regularly. Even walking daily can improve your mood, combat chronic diseases, and help you manage a healthy weight.

People 55 and older should talk to their doctors about their vascular health. Vascular disease can be controlled if diagnosed and treated early. Vascular surgeons treat these diseases with minimally invasive procedures that are quick, relatively painless and receive great results!

For more information about vascular health or the Reno Vein Clinic, please visit our website www.renoveinclinic.com or call us at (775) 329-3100.

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