DEFINITION OF VARICOSE VEINS AND THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
DEFINITION – WHAT IS A VARICOSE VEIN?
Located underneath the skin, a varicose vein is a superficial vein that has become dilated, tortuous and non-functional. Bluish in colour and slightly raised, varicose veins are permanent, and are most often found on the lower limbs. The evolution of most varicose veins can be treated and controlled through a variety of methods. In addition, the symptoms associated with varicose veins can be relieved by preventing their formation. It is important to note that, if left untreated, venous insufficiency can lead to complications such as ulcers or thrombosis. Women are affected by varicose veins more often than men. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of women aged 40 to 50 are affected.
TYPES OF VARICOSE VEINS
There are many different types of varicose veins, which are differentiated based on their size and location.
In most cases, varicose veins occur in superficial veins (accessory veins) along the legs, and often result from insufficiency in the internal or external (trunk) saphenous veins.
In a minority of cases, varicose veins can lead to superficial thrombosis caused by the inflammation of a vein.
The Circulatory System
Oxygen-rich (red) blood is pushed through arteries and capillaries to the body’s cells by the pumping action of the heart. Deoxygenated (blue) blood then travels back through veins to the lungs before returning to the heart. In the lower limbs, the muscles act as pumps to send the blood upward, against gravity. The presence of unidirectional valves also prevents the blood from flowing back down.