We learned last time, in Part 1 of our discussion, about the other high blood pressure. This is elevated blood pressure in the venous system. The one you have measured in the doctor’s office is the pressure in the arterial system.
Venous high pressure can lead to breakdown of the one-way valves in the veins that help return blood to the heart. This in turn can lead to pain, leg fatigue, aching, swelling, and ugly varicose and spider veins. If the pressure becomes high enough ulcers can develop and the patient is more susceptible to blood clot formation. Today we will discuss prevention and treatment of this condition.
Preventing Venous Hypertension
The first step in prevention is to realize whether or not you are at risk. People should check to see if there is a history of varicose veins, foot ulcers, or blood clot formation in the family. If close members of your family have had these problems, then you are at more risk for venous high blood pressure than average.
Next one should consider whether or not long hours spent sitting and especially standing are anticipated. This allows gravity to exert its maximum effect as we have already discussed.
Are You at Greater Risk for Venous High Blood Pressure?
If you are female, you need to know that veins are extremely sensitive to hormonal changes. There are major shifts in hormone levels that are normal during pregnancy. These changes result in dilated veins. This is normal; but sometimes these veins do not return to normal after pregnancy and can cause symptoms. Once this occurs, each succeeding pregnancy makes matters worse.
If you are tall, you need to be aware of the fact that the height of the column of blood in your legs is directly related to the pressure in the veins. Some investigators consider excess weight (obesity) to be a risk factor as well.
Finally, one should ask whether there is a history of trauma to the lower extremities. Trauma can disrupt the normal venous anatomy, setting up high venous blood pressure.
Lower Your Risks
Once you know about these factors you can become pro-active. Change your life style by losing weight. Walking or running regularly will help the venous blood circulate.Avoid prolonged standing or sitting. If you cannot avoid these positional factors, elevate your legs for 15 minutes twice a day.
Most importantly, see a vein specialist and get a pair of properly measured and fitted support stockings and wear them whenever you plan to be on your feet for a prolonged period of time. These stockings are the cornerstone of treatment and prevention in venous disease.
If you feel you have this condition already, seek out a vein specialist. There is no reason to accept comments such as, “that’s what happens as we get old” or “you just have to live with it”, or “there is not much to do for this condition except vein stripping, and you don’t want that”. Modern treatments are available that can help without hospitalization and major surgery.
Dr. Robert Ruess is a vein specialist at Five Star Vein Institute. Schedule your free vein consultation to learn if you are at greater risk for venous hypertension. Go to www.fivestarvein.com to learn more.