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Questions for the Experts: Should I be worried about my varicose veins?

Questions for the Experts: Should I be worried about my varicose veins?

We asked members of our medical staff to answer some common questions they hear from their patients.

Q: Should I be worried about my varicose veins?

A: Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red or flesh colored. They are often (but not always), raised above the skin on legs and look like twisted, bulging cords.

Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins that regulate blood flow direction from the legs toward the heart no longer function properly, causing blood to pool in the legs, a condition called venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency can become chronic and result in leg swelling, cramping, aching, heaviness or tiredness, itching, open skin sores, and restlessness of the legs.

Recent studies also show a correlation between varicose veins and deep venous thrombosis (DVT) which can be a precursor to pulmonary embolism (PE) which can be fatal. Nearly 25% of the global adult population is afflicted with Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), and don't even know they have the problem. Some symptoms of CVI include:

  • Aching
  • Cramping
  • Heaviness or tiredness
  • Itching
  • Open skin sores
  • Restlessness
  • Swelling
  • Varicose veins

Both varicose veins and CVI can be treated effectively. I perform minimally-invasive treatment for CVI and varicose veins that uses radiofrequency ablation (heat) to seal off the problem vein so blood gets re-routed to other veins that are functionally normally. These procedures are done as an outpatient with no downtime and an immediate ability to walk and do activities after the procedure in most cases.

The reason that most people do not know they have this problem is because an ultrasound exam is required to diagnose it. The ultrasound allows us not only diagnose venous insufficiency but also pinpoint the location. The procedure is performed under sterile conditions and can be done in the Cardiac Cath Lab or office setting. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to come and see us for further evaluation and an ultrasound if you exhibit any of these symptoms or have any concerns about the way your legs feel.

Sairav Shah, MD, FACC, practices at Campbell County Medical Group Cardiology, which is part of CCH’s robust Cardiovascular Services program. Our highly skilled, board certified cardiologists at the Cardiology clinic are here at all times to care for patients and our cardiac cath lab allows us to provide care quickly during an emergency. And, we can help get you back to your daily routine after a heart incident with our Cardiac Rehabilitation program. Dr. Shah and Dr. Nicholas Stamato, FACC, use these and other tools to diagnose and treat heart problems as the first cardiologists living and working in Gillette, Wyoming. The cardiac care team includes our physicians, registered nurses in the Clinic, as well as a team of registered nurses and technicians in the Cardiac Cath Lab and Cardiac Rehabilitation. Learn more at www.cchwyo.org/heart.