medical-info

How does the circulatory system work?

circulatory-systemOur blood flows in a closed circuit. It is replenished with oxygen in our lungs and is transported to our body’s organs by the heart through the arteries. These organs retain the oxygen and nutrients contained in the blood and return their waste products to it. Blood, after it releases its oxygen, is carried back to the lungs where it is replenished with oxygen.

The power behind the cardiovascular system is performed by the heart that pumps oxygenated blood through the arteries. The veins carry oxygen-free blood from our peripheral zones back to the heart.

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Abnormalties

blood-flowWith the passage of time and as a consequence of incorrect daily habits, pregnancy, familiar predisposition and hormonal problems, the walls of veins may gradually dilate, losing tone and elasticity. The one-way valve system is compromised.

Blood struggles to return back to the heart and tends to stagnate, especially in the distal parts of the legs (first the ankle and then the calf), this causes fatigue, heavy sensation and oedemas.

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Venous reflux

Venous refluxThis is an alteration of venous circulation. Blood tends to remain in the periphery and not to go back to the heart. Reflux can be present even in apparently normal persons but is more evident where veins are more diseased.

Telangiectasias

TelangiectasiasThese are small red or bluish veins that appear on the surface of the skin. They are commonly called “capillaries” and when they dilate they become very visible and form spider vein blemishes. In most cases they are formed without precise causes and even when there are no circulatory problems.

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Venous thrombosis

trombosisThis is the presence of a blood clot in the veins, often caused by slowing down of blood flow. Thrombosis can strike deep veins with the risk of pulmonary embolism. If the thrombus forms in a superficial vein (often varicose) the skin becomes red and hot, the vein is painful and develops hardness.

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Varicose veins

vene varicoseThese are vein dilations that can, with time, become tortuous. The most common (truncal varicose veins) are formed near the saphenous and collateral veins. Peripheral networks can also be formed (reticular varicose veins) on the rear surface of the thighs and legs. Reticular varicose veins are often considered to be only an aesthetic problem. However they can become venous insufficiency disturbances such as truncal varicose veins.

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Ulcer

ulcerThis is a lesion of the skin. It is not very painful if it is not infected and requires frequent medication, usually twice a week. Venous ulcers generally occur on the inside of the ankle and are caused by an alteration in venous circulation, sometimes accompanied by arterial insufficiency (ulcus mixtum).

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