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Sponsored: Venous diseases affect 40-50% of the population

September is Vascular Disease Awareness Month. Although venous diseases affect 40-50% of the population, many are not well-known by most people.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — September is Vascular Disease Awareness Month. Although venous diseases affect 40-50% of the population, many are not well-known by most people. 

Rebecca Van Zanen, from the Corewell Health Vascular Surgery and Vein Center, explained that vascular disease includes any condition that affects the circulatory system, or system of blood vessels.  

This ranges from diseases of the arteries, veins and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation.  

Van Zanen said some vascular diseases affect the arteries, while others occur in the veins. They can also happen in specific parts of the body, such as the legs.  

The best ways to prevent vascular disease, according to Van Zanen, include not smoking, maintaining an active lifestyle, choosing healthy foods, and following treatment plans for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  

Van Zanen explained some of the differences between artery disease and vein disease in the legs.

In terms of what it feels like:

  • Artery disease = cramping in buttocks or legs, skin on legs feel cold to touch, burning pain in feet/toes, numbness or weakness in legs, erectile dysfunction, no pulses in your feet
  • Vein disease = aching in legs, tired/heavy feeling in legs, restless legs

What it looks like

  • Artery disease = shiny skin on legs, hair loss on legs, bluish skin discoloration on feet, sores on feet/toes that won’t heal, slow growing or brittle toenails
  • Vein disease = bulging veins, swollen ankles/calves, reddish/brown skin discoloration near ankles, sores near ankles that won’t heal

When it bothers you

  • Artery disease causes cramping in the legs DURING ACTIVITY (like walking, climbing stairs, etc.) that gets better after you stop or DURING REST (when your legs are elevated, like sleeping)
  • Vein disease causes aching/heaviness/SWELLING in the legs AFTER SITTING OR STANDING FOR A PERIOD OF TIME (usually gets worse as the day goes on and is the worst in the evening before bed) but gets better when your legs are elevated (recliner, while sleeping)

Spider and varicose veins are more familiar vein diseases.  

Van Zanen said preventative measures include wearing sunscreen daily, elevating the legs when resting, wearing compression stockings regularly, not standing or sitting in one position for long periods of time, and leading a healthy lifestyle.  

She advises people to walk or run regularly to strengthen muscles and increase circulation, and maintain a healthy weight to maintain optimal blood flow.  

Corewell Health will be providing free screenings throughout the month of September. For more information, visit your Corewell Health MyChart or call 616.391.VASC to schedule.  The free screening dates and locations are:

Grand Rapids: 4069 Lake Drive

  • 9/8/23
  • 9/12/23
  • 9/19/23
  • 9/20/23
  • 9/28/23

Holland: 588 East Lakewood Blvd.

  • 9/11/23

Muskegon: 1845 Holton Road

  • 9/20/23

This story is sponsored by Corewell Health. 

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