Vascular disease is a medical condition involving the blood vessels, including those circulating blood to the heart (cardiovascular), the brain (cerebrovascular) and the rest of the body (peripheral).
Vascular diseases of the legs include peripheral artery disease, deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) and venous insufficiency (pooling of blood in the legs), the underlying cause of varicose veins.
Arteries carry blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. Veins return blood from the rest of the body to the heart, often overcoming gravity to do so. Leg veins are equipped with one-way valves designed to prevent blood from flowing backwards in the vein. When those valves no longer function properly because of age, dysfunction or the distention of the veins, the blood will no longer be sufficiently pushed in the correct direction and can flow backwards (“reflux”) and pool up in the legs. The accumulated blood causes increased pressure in the veins, forcing them to swell, bulge and even leak.
The circulatory and skin problems associated with this backup include symptoms identified with varicose veins.
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