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Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition that occurs when the venous wall and/or valves in the leg veins are not working effectively, making it difficult for blood to return to the heart from the legs.CVI causes blood to “pool” or collect in these veins, and this pooling is called stasis.
To reach the heart, the blood needs to flow upward from the veins in the legs.
Calf muscles and the muscles in the feet need to contract with each step to squeeze the veins and push the blood upward.
To keep the blood flowing up, and not back down, the veins contain one-way valves.
Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when these valves become damaged, allowing the blood to leak backward.
Valve damage may occur as the result of aging, extended sitting or standing or a combination of aging and reduced mobility.
When the veins and valves are weakened to the point where it is difficult for the blood to flow up to the heart, blood pressure in the veins stays elevated for long periods of time, leading to CVI.
CVI most commonly occurs as the result of a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs, a disease known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).CVI also results from pelvic tumors and vascular malformations, and sometimes occurs for unknown reasons.Failure of the valves in leg veins to hold blood against gravity leads to sluggish movement of blood out of the veins, resulting in swollen legs.Chronic venous insufficiency that develops as a result of DVT is also known as post-thrombotic syndrome.As many as 30 percent of people with DVT will develop this problem within 10 years after diagnosis.If you have risk factors for CVI, you are more likely than other people to develop the disease.