Cardiovascular Disorders: Chronic Venous Insufficiency and Deep Vein Thrombosis

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Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a cardiovascular disorder characterized by the veins in your legs not permitting the blood flow to re-enter the heart, as it is supposed to. As a result, the blood that would typically flow back up to the through the circulatory system “[pools] in your legs” (“Chronic Venous Insufficiency,” n.d., sec. 1) instead. Causes of CVI include obesity, pregnancy, harm inflicted on the leg, past blood clots, deep vein thrombosis (discussed below), phlebitis, “family history of the problem” (“Chronic Venous Insufficiency,” n.d., sec. 2), high blood pressure, and unhealthy practices such as smoking and not exercising (“Chronic Venous Insufficiency,” n.d.). 

Unlike CVI, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a disorder in which a blood clot occurs in any vein in the body (“Deep Vein Thrombosis Health,” n.d.). Causes of DVT include being over forty, sitting for irregularly long stretches at a time, pregnancy, obesity, a medical history of critical health issues, history of Type II Diabetes, family history of the disorder, past harm on a vein, birth control or estrogen hormone replacement, and smoking (“Deep Vein Thrombosis Health,” n.d.). 

Symptoms of CVI include swollen ankles and/or legs, cramps or spasms in the legs, tightness/itchiness in the legs, discomfort/restlessness in the legs, pain felt when walking, ulcers on the legs that are difficult to tend, skin turning into shades of brown on or around the ankles, and swollen veins in the legs. Diagnosing CVI requires a doctor to review your medical history, conduct a checkup, and order a Duplex ultrasound, an imaging test in which the “speed and direction” (“Chronic Venous Insufficiency,” n.d., sec. 4) of your “blood flow and the structure of your leg veins” (“Chronic Venous Insufficiency,” n.d., sec. 4) is examined (“Chronic Venous Insufficiency,” n.d.).

Symptoms of DVT are similar to those of CVI and may be completely unnoticeable until a pulmonary embolism occurs. Where they do occur, however, they include sudden swelling in the arms and/or legs, feelings of warmth and pain while walking or standing, red or blue colored skin, and swollen veins (“Deep Vein Thrombosis Health,” n.d.). 

Treatment of CVI is determined by several factors and includes medication, surgery, revising the flow of blood of the veins in the legs, sclerotherapy, and radiofrequency ablation. Factors that help determine which treatment or treatments are best to treat an individual diagnosed with CVI include age, health, medical history, preference of treatment, the severity of the disorder, and your responses to the various treatments available. Medications for CVI are those that improve the flow of blood to and from the legs. Aspirin and compression therapy may help relieve leg sores. Surgery can tie the vein to prevent blood from flowing to it or be cut off altogether. Blood flow to the veins in the legs can be improved through regular exercising, elevating the legs, and utilizing compression stockings. Sclerotherapy is a chemical which causes the veins of the legs to scar so they cannot carry blood. Like surgery, it is used for severe cases. Radiofrequency ablation warms the vein and thereby closes it, which prevents blood from further collecting in the leg veins (“Chronic Venous Insufficiency,” n.d.). 

There are fewer treatments available for DVT than CVI. These treatments include point-of-care testing, medication, Inferior Vena Cava filter, and compression stockings. Medications used to treat DVT include blood thinners and thrombolytics, which can dissolve blood clots. Inferior Vena Cava filters are placed inside the inferior vena cava and absorb blood clots. Compression stockings reduce swelling and prevent blood from forming clots (“Deep Vein Thrombosis Health,” n.d.). 

Venous thrombosis occurs when collected and thickened blood produce thrombin and the flow of blood is negatively affected. Arterial thrombosis occurs when the walls of arteries become inflamed due to the buildup of plaque. Venous thrombosis is different from arterial thrombosis not only because of its causes but also because of their and genetics. While venous thrombosis can be attributed to genes, arterial thrombosis occurs because of unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking or obesity (Vijimen & Heestermans, n.d.).


Chronic venous insufficiency (n.d.). John Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from,P08250. 

Deep vein thrombosis health center (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved from 

Vijimen, B. V. & Heestermans, M. (n.d.). The link between venous thrombosis and arterial thrombosis. Retrieved from