We here at Venocure are in the business of veins. We see veins everyday. We talk about veins. We live and breathe veins.
Because we are so familiar with veins, it’s easy for us to forget the patient is not. In this blog post, we’re going back to the basics. What are veins? What do veins do in the body? What happens when they don’t function properly? How can we here at Venocure in Dearborn help if you are concerned about vein health?
WHAT ARE VEINS?
Veins at their core are blood vessels that make up approximately half of the circulatory system along with arteries and smaller blood vessels. The circulatory system is the heart and blood vessels that carry blood (and thus oxygen and its by-products) throughout the body. The circulatory system is also a part of the larger cardiovascular system. Imagine a pipeline full of liquid (in this case, blood) that is interconnected and never ceases flowing. Essential for life, our bodies cannot survive without this vital process happening involuntarily (that is, without conscious thought) 24 hours a day for 365 days a year.
The job of veins in our body is to carry deoxygenated blood to and from the heart and lungs. They are vital to our existence. After the heart pumps oxygenated blood through the arteries to all of our cells and tissues, the veins carry the blood back to the right atrium of the heart where they deposit their carbon dioxide and are now ready to be refilled with oxygen and pumped back through the arteries to begin the life-giving process all over again. This cycle does not stop until you stop living.
Veins can vary greatly in size from the vena cava (meaning hollow vein in Latin) to the smallest veins called venules. Venules are the furthest veins from the heart and are found in our extremities. Veins do not need to withstand as much pressure as arteries do since they are merely returning blood, not receiving the force of the blood flow. Veins are less elastic, less smooth, and do not hold their shape very well. Veins are less muscular than arteries and are often closer to the skin. There are valves in most veins to prevent the blood from flowing in the wrong direction.
This is where varicose veins and spider veins come into the fray. Sometimes these valves in veins malfunction, letting some blood escape and flow backwards. This blood pools and collects, causing them to bulge, which is known as varicose veins. Some of this is just a natural process of aging as the valves break down from a lifetime of use. Family history, obesity, pregnancy, and standing or sitting for long periods of time can play a role as well.
HOW DO WE KNOW ABOUT VEINS?
The history of medicine is a fascinating study into the inner workings of the human mind. Human nature doesn’t change, but the superstitious nature of humans has. If you want insight into the human mind, read up on the history of medicine–a fascinating study of superstitions and how man discovers processes.
The veins actually have the honor of being one of the first accounts of scientific thought. Back in the 16th century BC, an ancient Egyptian papyrus describes how air entered through the mouth and into the heart and lungs through the arteries. In the 6th century BC, ancient India chimes in with a reference to the fluids circulating through the body. Two hundred years later, the Greeks knew about the heart valves, but because blood pools in veins when you die and not in the arteries, they missed the artery connection.
Continuing with the Greeks, they were the first to recognize when you cut yourself, it’s your arteries that bleed and knew the pulse had something to do with the arteries. Galen, the most famous early physician and anatomist in the ancient world whose teachings influenced everyone for 1500 years and whose teachings stood up until the twentieth century, had figured out that blood vessels carry blood in the 2nd century A.D. However, he also believed in the four humors — black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm — and thought they were carried as well by the blood vessels.
Preoccupied with survival, humans in the Dark Ages stayed in the dark and no significant progress in veins or in medicine for that matter was made. Humans had to wait until William Harvey, a pupil of Hieronymus Fabricius (who had earlier described the valves of the veins without recognizing their function), experimented in 1628 and discovered a direct connection between the veins and the arteries as they formed a continuous flow through the heart and body. With the explanation of the capillary system in 1661 by the Italian Marcello Malpighi, the essence of the circulatory system was complete and the medical world slowly came around.
THE VENOCURE DIFFERENCE
The vein specialists at Venocure are exceedingly thankful for the medical pioneers of ancient times. Medicine, like most knowledge in life, is cumulative. One person builds upon another person’s work and so on and so forth up until the present. Here in the present, we understand what causes varicose veins and spider veins and what treatments are available for varicose veins and spider veins.
As a pioneer on the forefront of vein technology, Venocure prides itself on diagnosing, treating, and preventing malfunctions of the veins. With two offices in Dearborn and Brownstown, our vein doctors are here to serve you and your needs. Venocure understands the discomfort caused by varicose veins and spider veins, and we’re here to help. Contact either our Dearborn office or our Brownstown office today for a free consultation!