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Veins vs Arteries: Is there any similarity?

Vein Disease vs Arterial Disease: How they relate to Varicose Veins.


Most often when patients come into Illinois Vein Specialists they have some form of chronic venous insufficiency as a result of underlying varicose veins. However, there are the rare occasions when patients will come and upon a full examination using an ultrasound we will discover that there are no actual varicosities in the legs. Patient’s will frequently ask once they have been informed of their diagnosis… “why do I have pain if I do not have varicose veins?”  Although the answer to this question varies depending on the medical history of the patient and what activities they are involved in regularly, sometimes the resulting pain is from their arteries rather than their veins, although both can have similar symptoms and involve the circulatory system.

Veins and arteries make up the circulatory system of our body which is in charge of pumping blood around the body.  Both veins and arteries are found in all shapes and sizes throughout the body, but arteries are responsible for pumping the blood from the heart to other parts of the body, where our veins are responsible for pumping the blood back to the heart. The difference being that arteries have the benefit of gravity allowing most of the blood to fall downward to the largest muscles, etc. Veins, however, have the challenge of pumping blood against gravity upward towards the heart.  This is accomplished by the two layers of the veins that function in a manner that creates movement for the blood to flow.  Some of our larger deeper veins, like the great saphenous vein, runs vertically inside our leg muscles. When we walk or exercise, our muscles contract squeezing the blood upwards through one-way valves.  

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Varicose Veins Are Actually a Symptom of High Blood Pressure in Veins

That's right! In fac,t all of the symptoms of varicose veins are really caused by venous hypertension (or venous insufficiency) which is actually high blood pressure inside the veins (not to be confused with arterial high blood pressure). This "venous high blood pressure" (venous hypertension) is created when the pressure in the veins builds to the point where the veins valves break. 

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