Our Amazing Circulatory System

Our amazing circulatory system - interaction with symptoms of vascular disease

Our amazing circulatory system – interaction with symptoms of vascular disease

Compression Therapy Successfully Used to Manage

Symptoms of Vascular Disease

Brought to you by Sigvaris

Let’s start with some facts to show the remarkable achievements that our cardiovascular system performs:

Our Heart

  • Approximately 70 beats per minute
  • 2.5 billion heartbeats per lifetime
  • 5000 – 6000 quarts of blood are pumped through the body each day
  • An adult heart weighs approximately 10.5 ounces
  • The strongest muscle in the body

Our Blood Vessels

  • An adult has about 100,000 miles of vessels in his/her body
  • 60 – 70% of blood volume in the entire body is located in the veins
  • Veins have 200 times greater elasticity than arteries
  • Total surface of vessels in the body is near 93,000 square inches

The circulatory system transports nutrients, water and oxygen via blood throughout your entire body including the organs and muscles. Oxygen-rich blood is pumped from the lungs to the heart, through the arteries and smaller vessels (arterioles) and then to tiny capillaries throughout your body.

It is in the venules and arterioles where oxygen is exchanged

It is in the venules and arterioles where oxygen is exchanged

It is in the capillaries where the arteries and veins connect and oxygen is exchanged. Then, the deoxygenated blood (CO2) is carried back to the heart and lungs through the venous system.


  • Blood returns to the heart
  • contains waste and metabolic residue


  • Blood flows from the heart
  • rich with oxygen and nutrients

Circulating blood through the veins toward the heart can be a challenge. Gravity forces veins to work harder to return blood to the heart.

Contraction of the calf muscle

Relaxation of the calf muscle

Relaxation of the calf muscle

The calf muscle (or “second heart”) aids the movement by contracting and relaxing as a person walks by providing pressure on the veins which forces valves to open and close, thus moving blood upward.

In a normal vein, one way valves are located ever 2 – 5 cm to aid in the proximal flow toward the heart. When calf muscles relax, the valves close to prevent blood from flowing backward into the lower part of the veins. These valves are fragile and can be easily damaged.

Poor circulation or compromised veins can cause blood to back up or “pool” and collect in the veins. This irregularity (also known as incompetency) in blood flow can lead to swelling, varicose veins or, if left untreated, more serious vascular disorders.

Venous Disease is progressive and left unchecked may result in a more serious condition.

Venous Disease is progressive and left unchecked may result in a more serious condition.

Let’s take a closer look at the venous system of the legs. The venous system contains most of the blood as it moves through the circulatory system. The venous system is comprised of the deep venous system, superficial veins and perforator veins. The deep venous system carries 90% of the venous blood volume and is the high pressure system of the venous circulation in the legs. The deep venous system is protected by muscle and fascia (strong connective tissue providing structural support and protection). The superficial system carries the balance of the blood volume (10%) and is the low pressure system.

The superficial veins are more prone to damage because they are not protected by a strong muscle sheath. Perforators penetrate the muscles throughout various parts of the body, connection the superficial veins with deep venous system veins.

Venous Disease is progressive, if left undiagnosed and untreated, minimal symptoms may result in a more serious condition. Symptoms range from an achy, heavy feeling and pain in the leg to edema (swelling), discoloration, skin changes and ultimately to a skin ulcer.

4-12 mmHg (20-40%)
Compression Therapy is often used in therapeutic management and is defined as the application of controlled, graduated external pressure to the limb to reduce venous pressure within the limb. It is important that the compression be graduated and that the strongest compression is at the ankle, decreasing in the proximal (toward the heart) direction.
10-24 mmHg (50-80%)

20-30 mmHg (100%)

Approximately 24 million Americans have varicose veins

Approximately 24 million Americans have varicose veins

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a collective term used to describe a long-standing condition involving impaired venous return in varying degrees of severity.

Symptoms include:

  • Edema (swelling)
  • Feeling of heaviness in the legs
  • Pain or cramps in the calves
  • Skin discolorations
  • Dermatitis (skin problems)
  • Dry or weeping eczema
  • Venous leg ulcer

A venous leg ulcer is an open wound that usually forms near the ankle and is caused by chronic poor circulation. The ulcer has a weeping, raw appearance and the skin surrounding the ulcer is dry, itchy and reddish-brownish in color. Venous leg ulcers are usually slow to heal.

Compression therapy is the treatment of choice for chronic venous insufficiency by many physicians.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

A Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in one of the deep veins. A DVT can cause damage to valves, cause blood to reflux, increase venous pressure and cause edema.

DVTs can be quite painful, but with treatment the majority of DVT’s are not life-threatening and the blood clots often gradually dissolve.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in one leg
  • Swelling in one leg
  • Increased warmth and redness in one leg
  • Shortness of breath and fainting
  • Pain in chest

DVTs can also occur with NO SYMPTOMS. DVT treatment includes a prescription for anti coagulation medications, daily walking and daily use of compression stockings.


Many factors contribute to the development of venous insufficiency and disease. According to the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR), roughly half of the U.S. population suffers from chronic venous disease.

Risk factors include:

  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy
  • Professions that require long periods of standing/sitting in one place
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Surgery, trauma, disease

Compression therapy is successfully used to manage mild, moderate and severe symptoms of vascular disease.

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