SENIOR HEALTH

FALL SEASON

2017

Vein & Vascular Health for Seniors

Vascular Conditions Veins

Veins are vessels that carry blood toward the heart. The blood that they are responsible for transporting is "used" blood going back to the heart and lungs to receive fresh source of oxygen and nutrients vital for cellular function. In structure veins are durable but their walls are relatively thin. They contain many tiny one-way valves to keep the blood flowing in the proper direction especially against gravity which is one of the major elderly vascular issues. Veins are situated both close to the skin as well as internally deep.

 

What are varicose veins?

Seniors with varicose veins form when a vein that is close to the skin enlarges and sometimes even twists. As part of this process, the one way valves malfunction. Blood backs up and may pool which further engorges the vessel. Varicosities may form in any body part, however, they are most common in the legs where they have to fight gravity the hardest and where they are most vulnerable. Often tortuous blue marks are protruding and visible. When you have many varicose veins you may experience a feeling of heaviness, burning and throbbing, swelling, skin discoloration and even cramps and pain. You may reduce the effect with support leg wear, elevating the legs, changing position and frequent rest with the affected part elevated. Cosmetic appearances may improve with the injection of sclerosing solutions to the distinct area. Sometimes surgical removal of these veins is necessary.

 

What is phlebitis?

Phlebitis, on of the major elderly vein issues occurs when a vein, and typically it is a vein that is a varicose vein, becomes inflamed. When this occurs, especially in larger internal veins, blood may pool and clot creating a thrombosis. This blood clot may then travel to other areas of the body (including critical areas such as the lung) and become life threatening. The seriousness increases as the size of the clot enlarges. When a deep vein is involved in a clotting condition, it is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The most frequent site for this is the leg and is often the result of crossing your legs and impairing normal circulation. When this happens typically one leg becomes swollen and an area may be warm and tender to touch. You may develop a fever. It is crucial for you to immediately seek competent medical care, have appropriate diagnostic tests and begin medical treatment to prevent serious complications. Depending upon the extent of the thrombosis, hospitalization may be required.

 

Who is at risk?

As with many conditions, there are certain persons who are more at risk than others for developing varicose veins and/or phlebitis. These persons typically:

 

  • Are overweight or may be dehydrated
  • Are sedentary or stand in one place for prolonged periods of time (and may be bed ridden)
  • Are women over 40
  • Have a family history of vein and/or heart conditions
  • Have a malignancy or recent surgery, especially for a hip fracture
  • Have had a recent trauma and/or injury to a vein
  • Wear clothing that is binding and interferes with blood flow

 

What You Can Do

As with most conditions, there are certain things that you can do to actively prevent vein problems from developing. Among these are:

 

  • Avoiding crossing your legs, using or doing anything that interferes with the circulatory system
  • Exercising regularly including deliberate movement during times that you might otherwise have been sedentary or standing still
  • Increasing fluid intake to prevent dehydration
  • Maintaining normal body weight
  • Practicing prevention with regular medical check ups
  • Responding to any warning signs in a timely fashion
  • Wearing support hose when you will be on your feet for an extended period of time

 

There are several factors, for example age and gender, which cannot be altered to reduce your risk of vein conditions. However, there are many items listed above that you can do to avoid problems with your veins.