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What is vascular insufficiency?

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Quick Answer

Venous insufficiency is the inability of the veins to return blood from the extremities to the heart where it is oxygenated, according to Healthline. Valves usually keep blood moving upward away from the extremities, but once compromised, the valves are unable to prevent back flow, and blood accumulates in the extremities.

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Full Answer

Blood clots and varicose veins cause venous insufficiency, notes Healthline. It is more common in older individuals and women over 40. Vascular insufficiency occurs in pregnant women, and obesity can be a risk factor. Smoking, phlebitis and leg trauma are predisposing factors. Extended periods of inactivity can cause blood pressure to increase in the extremities and increase the risk for vascular Insufficiency.

The symptoms of vascular insufficiency, according to WebMD, include edema of the extremities, cramping, itching and discoloration. Other signs of venous insufficiency include aching or heaviness and skin lesions. A venous Doppler, or ultrasound, is used to diagnose insufficiency. Compression stockings are commonly used to force the blood up from the extremities, which reduces swelling. Exercise is a way to increase the movement of blood out of the affected extremity. Another way to promote the flow of blood toward the heart is to lie with the legs raised.

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