About Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition that occurs when the walls and/or valves of the leg veins do not work properly. Veins work to return blood to the heart. For the blood in your legs to return to the heart, it needs to flow upward, so the leg veins’ one-way “valves” stop the blood from flowing back down.
When these valves become damaged, it causes the blood to leak back down and accumulate in the leg veins.
Over time, CVI can cause varicose veins, spider veins and swelling of the legs, itching and the development of ulcers near the ankles.
Various symptoms are associated with CVI and varicose veins, including:
- Achy or tired legs
- Leg ulcers
- Flaky or itchy skin on the legs or feet
- Swelling in the lower legs and ankles
- Leathery-looking skin on the legs
One of the first symptoms of CVI is referred to as “heavy leg syndrome”. Sufferers describe this as legs that feel heavy, tired, swollen and crampy.
What causes CVI?
Risk factors for CVI include:
- A family history of CVI or varicose veins
- Increasing age
- One or more blood clots in superficial or deep veins
- Gender (female)
- Prolonged standing or sitting
- Heavy lifting
By the age of 50, nearly half of all women and 1 in 5 men in North America have significant leg vein problems.
Does anyone in your family suffer from the symptoms of CVI?
In a market research study, 3 out of 4 CVI sufferers had at least one other family member who also suffered from CVI.
If not treated, CVI and its consequences can become serious. If you have any symptoms of CVI, it is important that you speak to your doctor. The symptoms will not go away untreated.
CVI impacts quality of life.
There are more people who suffer from CVI on a daily basis, versus those who suffer less frequently, like 3-4 times a week, once a week or a couple of times a month.
Many say that their symptoms cause them to have difficulty falling asleep or wake them up during the night because of leg cramps.
Many people find that their symptoms worsen when they’re more active than usual or when they have to spend long periods of time standing.
This can be a serious problem for people who have jobs that require heavy lifting or a lot of standing, like warehouse workers, landscapers, hairdressers, cooks/chefs, pharmacists, security guards, etc.
“I always have been active… I had to cut my activities down because my legs are too tired.”
Joanne, 49 years old
“It affects my work. I have to take more breaks.”
Michelle, 38 years old
“I don’t feel as productive as before in my work.”
Jeffrey, 53 years old
“I love hosting dinner parties, but I don’t do them anymore because I’m not able to stand for long enough.”
Chantal, 56 years old