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Chronic Venous Disease: Spotting the Signs and Symptoms

With chronic venous disease, easy-to-spot symptoms may indicate a serious health condition

With chronic venous disease, easy-to-spot symptoms may indicate a serious health condition

For many of us, warm summer days mean BBQs on the patio, beach picnics, languorous afternoons by the pool or invigorating mountain hikes. For others, it can mean abstaining from summer activities due to increased intensity of chronic venous disease symptoms. Swollen ankles? Varicose veins? Heaviness and fatigue in the legs? If any of these symptoms sound familiar, these are some of the milder indications of chronic venous disease which, unfortunately, worsen as the weather warms. Add to that, most who are afflicted don’t realize that even the mildest of symptoms are an actual medical condition that can and should be treated.

What is chronic venous disease?

Chronic venous disease is an inflammatory condition caused by poor blood circulation in the legs—usually concentrated in the lower legs.

Dr. David Liu, an Interventional Radiologist and Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia, and Founder of EVA Vein Care, a dedicated outpatient venous disease clinic, says it’s vitally important that people realize that this is a real disease with serious health risks that can worsen over time.

“Recognition and proper diagnosis will not only improve symptoms, but also prevent more serious conditions,” Dr. Lui says.

What causes the condition?

Often thought to be a cosmetic problem or a part of ageing, chronic venous disease can affect people as early as in their thirties. Women are more likely to develop the condition. Those with a family history are also at risk. Pregnancy can bring it on and previous damage to the legs from injury, surgery or previous blood clots are causes. Lifestyle choices—like little exercise and standing or sitting for extended periods—can also lead to chronic venous disease.

Identifying signs and symptoms

A person can have signs and symptoms like pain, nighttime cramps and heaviness or fatigue, but with no visible signs of chronic venous disease. This is the first of seven stages for clinical identification, as explained in The Vein Book by John Bergan and Nisha Bunke-Paquette. Visible spider and varicose veins on the legs are, respectively, stage two and three. Then edema or swelling on the ankle at stage four, while the fifth stage exhibits skin changes such as darkening, redness and itchiness, hardening of the soft tissue or a patch of whitening. The sixth identifier is a healed or healing venous ulcer. The last and seventh stage, the most serious, is an open venous ulcer.

Treatment options

“Treatment should begin at the first signs and symptoms of chronic venous disease,” advises Dr. Lui. “It consists of a spectrum of therapies ranging from the use of medications to compression stockings to surgery. Proper diagnosis and staging of chronic venous disease is essential.”

Venixxa, an over-the-counter natural health product, has only recently become available in Canada after 30 years in use in more than 100 countries around the world. He describes it as “a great option for patients who want to improve vein health”.

“Venixxa contains citrus-based flavonoids in micronized form (MPFF),” Dr. Lui explains. “MPFF has been tested in several clinical trials and proven to relieve signs and symptoms of mild to moderate chronic venous disease. Keep in mind that there’s just no quick fix, but after four weeks of taking Venixxa, patients reported a 50 percent reduction in sensation of heaviness and swelling. Optimal results can be seen after eight weeks, with a respective 65 percent and 72 percent reduction of the sensations of heaviness and swelling.”

As Dr. Lui noted, it is imperative to treat symptoms as soon as they’re recognized as this is a progressive disease that may require more invasive treatments if left untreated.