Understanding Your Veins


The movement of blood in the circulatory system throughout the body transports vital substances like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, and blood cells to help you to fight infection, stabilize temperature and pH, and maintain homeostasis.

Vein functions

Veins are elastic blood vessels that transport blood from your organs and tissues back to the heart. Most veins are equipped with one-way valves that prevent the blood from flowing backward in the opposite direction. The constant flow of blood through your veins helps to support many functions of the body and plays a key role in your cardiovascular health.

Structure of veins

As mentioned above, most veins have valves within to prevent the backflow of blood. Each vein is made up of three important layers:

  • A thick, outer layer made up of connective tissue
  • A middle layer containing bands of smooth muscle
  • An interior layer of membranous tissue lined with endothelial cells

Types of veins

There are a few different types of veins, each with unique characteristics and functions. These include:

Superficial veins – Superficial veins reside close to the surface of the body.

Deep veins – Deep veins are found deeper in the body and have corresponding arteries.

Communicating veins – Communicating veins (or perforator veins) are veins that directly connect superficial veins to deep veins.

Pulmonary veins – Pulmonary veins are a set of veins that deliver oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart.

Systemic veins – Systemic veins drain the tissues of the body and deliver deoxygenated blood to the heart.

Ways to reduce risk of vein disease

With so many veins coursing through your body, there’s a chance of developing vein diseases, such as venous insufficiency (weakened or damaged valves resulting in the backflow of blood) and deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot formed within a deep vein). Fortunately, there are some things you can start doing to help decrease your risk for developing vein disease.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy weight with regular exercise and consuming a well balanced, low-salt diet can help reduce your risk of developing vein disease. Regular exercise will promote healthy circulation, a low-salt diet will reduce high blood pressure, and a healthy body weight will reduce the strain on your veins.

Elevating the legs at rest

Elevating your legs while at rest is one of the best ways to prevent blood from pooling in your calves and ankles. When resting, prop your feet up on a couple of pillows or relax in a recliner chair. This will ease pressure and aid in healthy circulation.

Avoid prolonged sitting or standing

Prolonged sitting or standing can put excessive strain on your veins. If you plan on sitting or standing for a long time, plan ways to move about at least once every hour.

For more information on veins and vein disease, call the vein specialists at Northern Illinois Vein Clinic today at (815) 315-1894 to schedule your appointment.