The human body contains millions of veins! Some of which are so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. Others don’t even have names. Yet, each and every one of them plays a hugely important role. To put it simply, without them, our bodies would fail to function. In other words, without veins, there would be no life!
Because of this, it’s paramount that these vital components are protected. To do so, it’s important to have a good understanding of how veins function and their role within the human body. With this in mind, let’s dive in and take a closer look…
Veins and arteries – how they work hand in hand
Our circulatory system is in reality incredibly complex but in order to make things easier to explain, it can be broken down into two main component parts. They are veins and arteries.
The primary function of arteries is to transport highly oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood from our hearts and distribute it to the rest of our body. Veins, on the other hand, are used to pump much-needed blood back to the heart.
So to sum up, arteries transport blood away from the heart while veins move blood back to the heart.
While natural gravity makes the job of shifting blood away from the heart and on to the body easy, veins face the more difficult task of having to defy gravity to deliver blood back to the heart. As such, all veins – no matter what size they are – contain component parts to ensure that any blood passing through, only flows the correct way.
Superficial and deep veins
If you could look into your body you would see that your network of veins is laid out in two distinct layers – deep and superficial veins. Superficial veins are located nearer to the surface of the skin. They number in their tens of thousands and some are so small that you would need a microscope to view them.
Conversely, deep veins are less in number and as the name suggests lies deep within the muscle tissue. To make identification easy, deep veins are almost always located beside an artery with the same name. For instance, a femoral vein would be located right next to the femoral artery.
When healthy, both superficial and deep veins contain a functioning one-way valve that allows blood to flow upwards towards the heart but prevents it from flowing downwards. However, because of genetics or health complications, sometimes they are unable to function correctly. This can cause problems such as:
- Blood clots – like those found in cases of deep or superficial vein thrombosis or phlebitis
- Blood pooling – like those found in cases of Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
- Abnormally dilated blood vessels – like those found in varicose and spider veins
- Ulcers – caused when blood can’t move through the veins and remains static
As you can imagine, in some cases, problems can lead to life-threatening conditions. So for this reason, it’s important to look after your circulatory system, in particular – your veins!
So how exactly do you do this?
Vein health – how to care for your veins
Taking care of your veins is not something you hear about a lot, but poor vein health can be brought on by a number of underlying health problems such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. So taking care of your body will ultimately enable you to take better care of your veins.
So factors like:
- Eating healthily
- Exercising regularly/keeping active and
- Maintaining a good weight
will all help to retain good vein health.
Obesity, for example, places extra weight on the legs. This, in turn, places extra pressure on veins located within and their associated valves, making it far harder to pump blood sufficiently against gravity and back to the heart.
Another pointer for vein health is to stay hydrated…
While remaining hydrated is important for a number of health reasons, did you know that drinking plenty of water can help to prevent blood from thickening?
When we are dehydrated, the blood becomes more concentrated. In other words, it contains higher amounts of chemicals in the blood. Thicker blood means that people are at greater risk from blood clots forming in the veins and arteries but in addition, veins have to work far harder to pump concentrated (thicker) blood around the body. In essence, having thicker blood is a sure-fire way of exacerbating circulatory (vein) problems.
Lifestyle habits such as smoking can also be problematic for vein health…
Just like not drinking enough water, chemicals contained within tobacco smoke can contribute to thicker (more concentrated) blood. In addition, however, nicotine can also cause vascular hardening and narrowing, leading to problems like Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI).
People with sedentary lifestyles are also more prone to vein problems, so if you do have a desk job or you sit for long periods of the day, try getting up regularly and walking around. This keeps the veins pumping and the blood flowing.
Seeking treatment immediately
Finally, if you do start to notice symptoms like restless legs, limb aching/heaviness, skin discoloration or swelling, it’s important to get it checked out right away. Your doctor will probably refer you to a Vascular Physician (vein specialist) for a second opinion. Vein problems don’t simply go away and in fact, will often deteriorate over time. Therefore the earlier problems are detected, the easier they are to put right.
If you feel that you would like to speak to a clinical professional about your vein problems then come and talk to Dr. Akinwande and the team. Here at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT), we use the latest technology and techniques to ensure that you get the very best vein health care possible. Call today on 314 255 2204 to book a consultation.