Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Men, women and veins

Gender and age are two primary risk factors in the development of venous insufficiency. The U.S. estimate for varicose veins is 40% in females and 22% in males. 72% of American women and 42% of men will experience varicose veins symptoms by the time they reach their sixties (although vein problems can occur at almost any age).

While it’s true that women are more likely than men to have venous disease, including varicose veins and spider veins, men are more likely to suffer from the worst vein problems, such as ulcers. Why is this the case?

Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen has observed that women tend to get help for their vein issues right away, while men will often wait until the problem becomes too painful to ignore. Leg ulcers, or wounds that won’t heal, are often the result. Conditions like varicose veins get worse with time, so the longer someone waits, the more extensive the condition—and often, the treatment.

Even men who are athletic are susceptible to venous disease. The important thing is to seek help for vein issues as soon as symptoms present themselves.

Symptoms of venous disease include:
  •     Leg fatigue or heaviness – It is an early warning sign when legs feel good upon waking but are intensely tired or heavy at the end of the day.
  •     Swelling – This can be caused by many things but also serves as a very early warning sign for vein problems.
  •     Skin changes – Redness, skin thickening or other color changes on the legs and/or ankles is a common (and commonly overlooked) symptom.
  •     Other skin changes, such as dermatitis, cellulitis, dry or scaly skin, or brown “stains” on the skin can be signs of advanced venous disease, and should be evaluated by a physician.
  •     Spider veins – Blue- or purple-colored veins that occur under the skin but are close enough to be seen on the surface can be the “tip of the iceberg.
  •     Varicose veins – Another sign of early stage venous disease, varicose veins are visible veins in the leg that bulge, often protruding through the skin.
  •     Ulcers – An open wound on the leg or ankle that fails to heal can be the result of ongoing venous disease, often an indication that venous disease has reached an advanced stage.
Remember, some people with venous disease present with no symptoms, only skin changes and/or bulging veins. The key for anyone, regardless of gender, is to get evaluated as soon as he or she suspects there’s a problem.