Understanding vein and lymphatic diseases and the risk factors associated with them

Vein and lymphatic disease can lead to many issues in the body

Your veins and lymphatic system play an important role in circulating blood throughout your body.

Normally, your heart pumps out fresh oxygenated blood and your veins bring it back.

Over time, your veins can stretch out and lose elasticity. When that happens, blood can fall into the middle of the veins causing them to get bigger and causing your blood flow to slow. This can put a stress on the lymphatic system.

Your lymphatic system takes any fluid that gets out of your vascular system and dumps it back into the blood system near the heart.

When either one of these systems is in distress, your body suffers.

“So, they’re occupying the space and blocking oxygen delivery of the fresh arterial blood,” said Dr. John Hogg, CEO Physician at Medical Vein Clinic.

The American Venous Forum says vein and lymphatic diseases can lead to issues like:

  • Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)
    • A blood clot in the leg, usually the calf.

“Anyone who thinks they have a blood clot should really seek medical attention,” Dr. Hogg said.

  • Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
    • A blood clot that gets stuck in a lung artery and stops blood from flowing to that part of the lung.
  • Chronic Venous Disease (CVD)
    • Varicose/Spider veins
    • Leg swelling/pain
    • Leg ulcers
    • Vascular malformation

There are multiple risk factors when it comes to vein and lymphatic diseases.

“The most common risk factor for a venous disease is you inherit it, it’s genetics,” said Dr. Hogg.

Dr. Hogg says Hispanics are the highest population group to get these diseases. He says this population type has a one-in-four chance of getting sick, while people of Asian descent are least likely to be affected by these diseases.

If one parent has varicose veins, you have a 50% chance of getting them. If both parents have them, Dr. Hogg says your chance of getting them is at 90%.

“Start early, check your legs. You see Mom and Dad, start thinking about what I can do to prevent it,” Dr. Hogg said.

Other risk factors include your profession, height and your location.

When it comes to your profession, if you sit a lot and don’t move your legs much, this can affect your veins and lymphatic system.

“You need to keep your toes on the ground and pick your heels up and move them back and forth, I call that chair walking,” said Dr. Hogg.

Your height plays a role because the taller you are the more likely you can get diseases in your veins since your blood has to travel more.

Heat plays a role in your veins because the hotter it is outside, the more your veins are able to expand.

Thankfully, treatments for vein and lymphatic diseases are usually non-surgical. First, doctors will start with conservative treatments like getting you moving more and wearing compression socks. If that doesn’t help, they will use a guided ultrasound to shrink the veins.

Medical Vein Clinic just opened its second location in the Alamo City in September of 2023. You can learn more about what the clinic does to serve our community by visiting their website.

About the Author:

Halee Powers is a KSAT producer primarily focused on digital newscasts and events.