Are varicose veins and peripheral artery disease related?

Recently a question was submitted to this blog asking if peripheral artery disease is related to varicose vein problems. First it is important to know the difference between arteries and veins. Arteries carry blood from the heart into the legs and feet. Once the blood gets into the legs and feet it is the job of veins to collect the blood and bring it back to the heart. So arteries carry blood down the legs to the feet and veins bring it back up. Peripheral artery disease happens when arteries become narrowed or blocked so that blood has trouble getting into the legs and feet. On the other hand, vein problems develop when check valves that prevent blood from falling back down leg veins fail. This backflow of blood through failed veins is called venous reflux. This leads to excessive pressure in veins which causes them to stretch into bulging varicose veins that are both unsightly and usually very uncomfortable. It is possible to have venous reflux with leg pain and other symptoms without having visible varicose veins.

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