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The Link Between Pregnancy and Vein Problems

The Link Between Pregnancy and Vein Problems

Vein problems can develop for any of a number of reasons. Would you be surprised to learn that pregnancy is one of them?

At Northwest Houston Heart Center, cardiologists Dr. A. Adnan Aslam and Dr. Roy Norman diagnose and treat all manner of vein diseases, including vein problems caused by pregnancy. Here’s what they have to say about the link between the two and what you can do about it.

Vein problems 

The veins are the part of your circulatory system that returns deoxygenated blood from the body to the lungs and heart. They have a difficult job, though, since they have to move the blood against the downward pull of gravity.

To overcome this difficulty, veins employ two techniques: the calf and thigh muscles contract, squeezing the veins and pushing the blood forward; and the veins contain valves that snap closed once blood has passed by, preventing backflow.

Unfortunately, these mechanisms don’t ensure that problems won’t develop. The early stages of vein disease may produce few, if any, symptoms, so it pays to know your risks.

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)

The vein walls, while elastic to accommodate varying amounts of blood, can become damaged or weakened when plaque forms because of fat and cholesterol deposits, high blood pressure, or excessive weight from obesity or pregnancy.

The plaque deposits can also damage the internal valves, preventing them from closing properly. The blood is therefore free to backtrack, and it may pool around the damaged area, causing thick, ropy, colored bulges on your legs — varicose veins. Because the blood flow is sluggish and can’t adequately meet the body’s needs, the underlying state is called venous insufficiency.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are common, affecting up to 3 in 10 adults, most of them women over 50. When not treated, they become one of the major risks for venous insufficiency turning into chronic venous insufficiency.

Varicose veins are not, by themselves, a dangerous condition, though you may experience symptoms such as pain, itchiness, and a “heavy” feeling. But, left unchecked, they can lead to later and more serious forms of vein disease.

To prevent varicose veins from forming if you’re pregnant, try to sit and elevate your legs as much as possible so the veins don’t become damaged in the first place.

Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS)

Pelvic pain is a common complaint among women, and it can result from a number of different problems, making an accurate diagnosis a necessity. PCS is a condition known for causing chronic (more than six months) pelvic pain. Doctors believe it’s caused by vein problems in the pelvic area, the lower part of the abdomen, and the ovaries.

The problem is similar to varicose veins in the legs, only with PCS, the veins in the pelvic area enlarge and change shape, leading to pain.

Researchers are still trying to find out what causes PCS, since some women have enlarged veins in their pelvis but display no symptoms.

Pregnancy may increase the risk of PCS, because the pelvic veins enlarge during pregnancy to provide increased blood flow to the fetus. If they don’t return to their normal state following delivery, the result may be chronic pain. In fact, pregnancy is a known risk factor for PCS.

Northwest Houston Heart Center offers a number of treatment options for varicose veins, including compression stockings, sclerotherapy, endovenous ablation, and microphlebectomy.

If you’re pregnant and are concerned about your vein health, there’s no better place to be than Northwest Houston Heart Center. To get started, give us a call at one of our locations — in Tomball, Cypress, The Woodlands, or Magnolia, Texas — or book online today. You can also text us at 832-402-9518.

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