The ABCs of Vascular Diseases

What do your circulatory system and alphabet soup have in common? Letters—and lots of them. In the vascular health field, healthcare professionals shorten the names of medical conditions with acronyms. This can be confusing to the average patient. Take a look at these vascular conditions, their abbreviations and what you need to know about each one.

CVI — Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency is also known as venous reflux. It’s when blood pools in your legs because the valves in your veins fail, causing blood to flow backward instead of toward the heart. As the blood pools, venous pressure increases and causes different symptoms, vein conditions and skin changes. Symptoms include:

  • Achy, painful legs
  • Tired, heavy, fatigued legs
  • Swollen legs and ankles
  • Bulging veins (varicose veins)
  • Itching, irritation, dryness, tingling or burning sensation of the skin
  • Skin discoloration, redness or inflammation
  • Ulcer or non-healing wounds on the lower legs
  • Spider veins

Learn more about CVI

DVT — Deep Vein Thrombosis

We all have two venous systems flowing through our legs called the deep venous system and the superficial venous system. Deep veins carry 80 percent of your blood from your legs to your heart. That’s why you want them free and clear of any blockages.

When a clot forms in a deep vein it is called a deep venous thrombosis or DVT (thrombosis is the medical term for clot). DVT is a serious problem for two reasons:

  1. It can block blood returning to the heart, causing pain and swelling in the leg.
  2. The clot can break off and travel through the bloodstream to lodge in the lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism.

Make an appointment with a vein specialist if you have any of the following:

  • Leg pain, especially in the calf and with sudden onset
  • Leg swelling, especially with sudden onset
  • Warm, tender, red skin on the leg

Learn more about DVT

PE — Pulmonary Embolus

A pulmonary embolus is a blood clot that breaks free from its original spot in a vein, travels through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs.

You can have a pulmonary embolus and not experience symptoms, but typically you may have one or more of the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Cough, with or without blood
  • Pain during deep breaths
  • PE can range from minor to fatal. A small pulmonary embolus can go unnoticed, and a large pulmonary embolus can cause sudden death. Grouped together, DVT and PE are known as venous thromboembolism disease (VTE).

Learn more about PE

VTE — Venous Thromboembolism

You’ve heard about heart attacks and strokes. They’re the top two vascular diagnoses in the U.S. Venous thromboembolism is the third leading cause of cardiovascular deaths. VTE affects between 300,000 and 600,000 Americans every year.

Don’t ignore symptoms of DVT or PE. Talk to a vein specialist about ways to prevent and treat VTE.

PAD — Peripheral Artery Disease

Plaque buildup which narrows arteries and prevents healthy blood flow to your limbs is called peripheral artery (or arterial) disease. PAD can cause intense cramps when you walk, known as claudication. Your muscles cramp because they are not getting enough oxygen. Left untreated, severe PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation.

If you have any of these symptoms, or you think you might have one of these vascular conditions, call VEINatlanta to set up a consultation with one of our board-certified doctors. We are here to help you.