Arterial vs. Venous Insufficiency

Arterial vs. Venous Insufficiency

Arterial Insufficiency and Venous Insufficiency are the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases. When left untreated, the complications commonly result in heart attacks and strokes, occurring at any time, anywhere, and any circumstance of a person’s life.

Today, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have been ruining the lives of many American citizens. On a global scale, CVDs are the no. 1 cause of death across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. 

The American Heart Association reveals that on average, someone in the United States survives a stroke every 40 seconds, where a life expires every 3.59 minutes. Based on 2017 data, there were accumulated 2,353 deaths each day, where someone dies every 37 seconds in the United States. 

Anyone can be a potential victim of CVDs, including yourself. But with proper health education, lifestyle, and awareness, you can survive and live sustainably without suffering fatal health complications. 

But first – what is a cardiovascular disease?

What is Cardiovascular Disease?

The United Kingdom National Health Services (NHS) suggests that cardiovascular disease is a health complication affecting the normal function of your heart or blood vessels. It is usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries (atherosclerosis), or an increased risk of blood clots in the veins. 

On the other hand, the World Health Organization presupposes the unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, the harmful use of alcohol, and chainsmoking can increase the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. Without a cessation of these risk factors, your body obtains an increased blood pressure, raised blood glucose and blood lipids, plus an overwhelming weight and obesity. 

Poverty, stress, and hereditary factors are other determinants of CVDs.

What are the common types of Cardiovascular Disease?

Heart Failure

Heart failure implies the failure of your heart to pump enough blood and suffice the body needs. In medical terms, heart failure doesn’t make a heart stop working. But it emphasizes the ability of your heart to pump blood the way it should. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, heart failure can be on-going (chronic), or the condition starts impedingly (acute). 

During a heart failure, your body may experience shortness of breath (dyspnea), fatigue and weakness, swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles, and feet, swelling of your abdomen (ascites), and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. 

Currently, heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65. As one of the recurring health problems in the U.S., it has affected more than 6.5 million people. 


Stroke is a general term used when your brain fails to supply oxygen and nutrients it needs. However, there are three kinds of stroke: Ischemic Stroke, Hemorrhagic Stroke, and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). 

First, Ischemic Stroke accounts for 88 percent of all stroke cases. Older people aged 60 or more years suffer from Ischemic stroke, and its risk increases with age. Here, there is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain, caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries (atherosclerosis).

Second, Hemorrhagic Stroke occurs when a diseased blood vessel bursts and leaks inside the brain. Commonly, this type of stroke stems from high blood pressure, infections, tumors, blood clotting deficiencies, and abnormalities in blood vessels.

Lastly, when a stroke lasts only a short time (less than an hour), it refers to Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). This condition impedes and takes a sudden onset of blindness in one or both eyes or double vision, slurred or garbled speech, weakness or paralysis in arms, face, or legs, and vertigo or loss of balance of body coordination.

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a chronic venous insufficiency that causes the blood clot formation in the deep veins of your body, typically in your legs, as Mayo Clinic suggests. During DVT, blood clots in your veins can break loose, join through the bloodstream, lodge in your lungs, and block the normal blood flow, which causes the fatal presence of pulmonary embolism (PE).

In DVT, one of your legs throbs and cramps in pain, usually occur in the calf or thigh. When it swells, your leg manifests a warm skin around the painful area, usually red or darkened discoloration. Some cases of pulmonary embolism doesn’t show occurrence. Hence, signs of PE include shortness of breath, chest pain, higher heart rate, and coughing up blood. 

Arterial Insufficiency and Vascular Insufficiency in a nutshell

The dominance of cardiovascular disease incites more than a heart complication. When it complicates the heart or any portals to carry nutrient-rich and oxygenated blood, this could lead to the occurrence of CVD, including your legs, arms, feet, and kidneys. Hence, CVD links to two major health complications – the arterial insufficiency and venous insufficiency.

What is Arterial Insufficiency?

In the circulatory system, arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood, pumped by the heart, to other parts of the body. 

Arterial insufficiency is an abnormality or complication in the arteries that slows down or stops the usual blood flow. During an arterial insufficiency, your arteries fail to deliver the needed oxygen and nutrients to the leg and foot, resulting in tissue breakdown.

There are two major causes of Arterial Insufficiency: atherosclerosis and arterial embolism. 


Mayo Clinic suggests that atherosclerosis (or arteriosclerosis) occurs when blood vessels complicate due to the occurrence of plaque. Plaque is the result of compounded fatty materials into the wall structures of the arteries. Here, plaque restricts the flow of oxygenated blood through your organs and tissues. It stiffs and narrows your arteries, thus causes the blockage of blood flow. 

Moreover, atherosclerosis can occur during childhood. Its complication progresses as early as the 30s. But if left untreated, it could lead to fatality and expiration of your life as you reach the 50s or 60s. 

That’s why the American Heart Association reveals that plaque development in your arteries present a threat. In a study, it reveals that the breaking off of plaque increases the risk of blood clot creation (thrombus). Hence, plaque complications may block the blood flow through various sizes of arteries in the heart, brain, pelvis, legs, arms, or kidneys, precipitating various conditions, including:

  • Chronic kidney disease;
  • Peripheral artery disease, or PAD in legs;
  • Carotid artery disease, plaque in neck arteries supplying blood to the brain;
  • Angina, a chest pain caused by insufficient oxygen-rich blood supply in the heart muscle; and 
  • Coronary heart disease, a heart complication caused by the build-up of plaque in coronary arteries.

Currently, there is no specific evidence explaining how atherosclerosis starts or what causes its occurrence. However, researchers and scientists agreed on three possible causes of plaque development in atherosclerosis: 

  1. High Cholesterol. Too much fat can kill you. When high cholesterol occurs in your arteries, it forms heart plaque restricting or blocking blood circulation through your heart and other organs. 
  1. Unbalanced Diet. Too much sugar, saturated fats, and high cholesterol can increase the risk of atherosclerosis. A 2017 study from the Global Burden of Disease study revealed that unhealthy diets contribute to health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, forms of cancer, and Type 2 diabetes, which affected 11 million deaths. 
  1. Aging. As you grow older, your vascular, too, gets age. Your body requires your heart and blood vessels to work harder and pump more blood. According to cardiologist Matthew Sorrentino MD, a professor at The University of Chicago Medicine, atherosclerosis usually occurs in the teens and early 20s. But by the age of 40, cholesterol deposits in your arteries. As to men, the age of 45 exposes a risk of plaque build-up. As to women, the ages of 55 and above lean to the signs of atherosclerosis. 

Arterial Embolism

An arterial embolism takes place when a clot (embolus), which comes from another part of the body, causes a sudden interruption of blood flow to an organ.

According to the MedlinePlus, arterial embolism stems from one or more clots, stuck in an artery and blocked blood flow. It occurs commonly in legs and feet. 

When emboli occur in the brain, it results in a stroke. But if it occurs in the heart, it causes a heart attack. 

Healthline incites that the major causes of arterial embolism are high blood pressure, smoking, arterial injury, heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and surgery that affects blood circulation.

When left untreated, arterial embolism may result in skin ulcers (open sores), death of tissues, and an appearance of skin shedding.

Treatment for Arterial Insufficiency

Currently, there are two effective ways to treat and prevent the complications of Arterial Insufficiency  – either by medications or by surgical procedures.


Medications depend on your doctor’s prescription. However, for your future reference, here are some medications to treat atherosclerosis:

  • Beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers;
  • Diuretics, or water pills;
  • Anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs; 
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications, including statins and fibrates; 

Surgical Procedures

On the other hand, you can avail of surgical procedures if your symptoms get severe, particularly on muscle or skin tissues. Again, you need to avail to undergo examinations and ask your doctor’s advice. 

Here are some surgical procedures to avail::

Thrombolytic Therapy

Thrombolytic therapy utilizes drugs called the lytics or “clot busters,” which help 

dissolves blood clots occurring in your major arteries or veins. This therapy needs to be enforced on the early stage of atherosclerosis to prevent severe complications. 

Bypass surgery

As the name implies, this kind of procedure bypasses the blocked portion of the corona artery by grafting blood vessels from a leg vein or an artery in your chest. Here, your surgeon connects one end of the graft above the blockage, attach the other below. As a result, the blood flow bypasses the blockage through the new graft, reaching the heart muscle. 


Angioplasty restores the blood flow from the blockage in your artery. This procedure uses a balloon in stretching a narrowed or blocked artery. Recently in medical operations, most modern angioplasty procedures insert a stent, a short wire-mesh tube, into the affected artery using a local anesthesia. 

Carotid Endarterectomy

Carotid Endarterectomy removes the plaque from inside a carotid artery in your neck to prevent a stroke. Here, your surgeon makes an incision in a  portion of your neck to expose the blocked section of a carotid artery. By which, he inserts a temporary flexible tube to clear the plaque from your artery to induce a normal blood flow. 

What is Venous Insufficiency?

While arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood, pumped by the heart, to other parts of the body, veins carry the blood low in oxygen from the body back to the heart. 

During venous insufficiency, your blood flow retrogrades back down the veins, causing the blood to collect and pool, commonly in your arms or legs. As it complicates, it develops faulty valves inside the veins, which amounts to venous insufficiency.

Up to 40 percent of people in America suffer from venous insufficiency, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery. 

Moreover, the leading causes of venous insufficiency are obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, swelling of superficial veins, prolonged sitting or standing, pregnancy, untreated blood clots, and hereditary. 

Types of Venous Insufficiency

The symptoms of venous insufficiency may vary into its complications. Here are some common types of venous insufficiency:

Spider Veins

Spider Veins are damaged, tiny veins that usually appear on the surface of your legs or face. Its occurrence incites no pain points or hazard to your life, but it is a daily struggle for your cosmetic appeal. It forms as thin lines, webs, or branches in bluish, purple, or red skin appearance. 

Varicose Veins

Compared to spider veins, the occurrence of varicose veins manifests both health and cosmetic challenges. The bulging, swelling and twisted veins commonly lie close to the surface of the skin. It usually occurs in arms or legs. 

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the U.S. Department of Health, early symptoms of getting varicose veins are skin bulging, swelling, aching pain, bluish veins, itching, changes of skin color, and itching.

When left untreated, varicose veins could develop venous skin ulcers, superficial thrombophlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, restless legs syndrome, etc.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency 

Chronic Venous Insufficiency refers to the long, recurring occurrence of venous diseases in your skin. It is the leading cause of venous stasis ulcers, causing scaling and erythema of the lower extremities. During a chronic venous insufficiency, your legs feel an increased pressure of pigmentation and swelling. 

Superficial Venous Thrombosis

Superficial Venous Thrombosis or Superficial Thrombophlebitis warms and causes inflammation process into the affected area. Unlike Deep Vein Thrombosis,  its symptoms usually occur just beneath the surface of the skin, without breaking loose or traveling into the lungs. 

Non-invasive Treatments for Venous Insufficiency 

Recent progress in medical technology has resulted in more conducive and less surgical operations in treating venous insufficiency. In other words, you can now avail treatment without losing much blood or mitigating venous insufficiency without “vein stripping.”

Here are some non-invasive treatment procedures that you can avail in vein treatment clinics:


In sclerotherapy, your doctor injects a chemical into the damaged vein called “sclerosant.” The sclerosant solution destroys small to medium veins. As it minimally scars the affected vein and collapses, forcing blood to reroute its flow to make healthier veins.

Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency Ablation is a type of treatment involving the transmission of radiofrequency energy through the vein walls. Here, your doctor utilizes ultrasound to check the internal parts of your legs. Your legs are numb as your doctor inserts a wire catheter, which gradually produces radiofrequency energy – heating up, thickening, and contacting the vein walls. Thus, the ablated veins will be reabsorbed and disappear. 

Laser Ablation

This type of treatment uses laser energy to treat venous disease. Similar to the procedures of Radiofrequency Ablation, only that your doctor inserts a laser fiber into the catheter then moves directly through the affected area. The catheter allows laser energy to heat the blood vessels. As a result, the affected vein eventually shrinks and is reabsorbed by the body.

Ambulatory Phlebectomy

Ambulatory phlebectomy is a best minimally-invasive treatment for venous disease. Most dermatologists recommend using this procedure to treat superficial veins, bulging above the skin and varicose veins. Here, your doctor outlines affected veins and injections using local anesthesia. Through small incisions, your doctor surgically removes the bulging veins, segment by segment.

Home Treatment 

Still, changing your unhealthy habits help avoid the dangers of venous insufficiency. Through regular exercise, a proper diet, and sufficient rest results in a healthy blood flow in your blood vessels.

Remember to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and prolonged sitting. Of course, there are essential components of treating venous insufficiency, by eating avocados, beets, blackberries, ginger, and asparagus in your diet. 

Read our article on varicose vein treatment costs to get an insight into what is the most cost effective procedure for you.

Are varicose vein creams effective treatment? We also cover that as well.

Key Takeaways 

To recap our venous vs arterial insufficiency here is what we covered:

Table of Contents

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) remain to be the world’s greatest nightmare. The World Health Organization has reminded us that CVDs are the no. 1 cause of death across the globe. The fatality of heart attack, stroke, and deep vein thrombosis might end your life. But learning its causations and changing your unhealthy lifestyle make you live longer. 

The prevalence of Arterial Insufficiency and Venous Insufficiency are leading causes of cardiovascular diseases. Both blood vessels form part of the regular blood circulation in your body. But when arteries fail to deliver oxygenated blood, it may cause the abnormal function of the veins, and vice versa. 

An arterial insufficiency is an abnormality or complication in the arteries that slows down or stops the usual blood flow. While venous insufficiency retrogrades the blood back down the veins, causing the blood to collect and pool, commonly in your arms or legs

Atherosclerosis and arterial embolism are major causes of Arterial Insufficiency. While spider veins, varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, and superficial venous thrombosis are leading factors of Varicose Insufficiency.

In treating arterial insufficiency, you have two ways to mitigate and eradicate its presence – by medication, or surgical procedures. In medication, you may avail of: 

  • Beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers;
  • Diuretics, or water pills;
  • Anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs; and
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications, including statins and fibrates;

Or in treating through surgical procedures, you may undergo: 

  • Thrombolytic Therapy;
  • Bypass Surgery;
  • Angioplasty; and
  • Carotid Endarterectomy.

On the other hand, there are five various ways to treat venous insufficiency, including:

  • Sclerotherapy
  • Radio Frequency Ablation
  • Laser Ablation
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy
  • Home Treatment 

So if you are experiencing arterial insufficiency or venous insufficiency, book your appointment and get your treatment here at Elite Vein Clinic!

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