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Collecting a Health History for Peripheral Venous Disease

by Amy Lomas

Pages 2 and 3 of 6

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Introduction: What is peripheral venous disease?
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Veins are the blood vessels that bring blood from the distal points of the body back to the heart. Veins have thin walls that allow for stretching when large volumes of blood must flow back to the heart. However, this means that veins can become weak and inelastic, which predisposes them towards disease (Bickley 2021).
Peripheral venous disease occurs when blood backs up in the veins (Bickley 2021). Patients with peripheral venous disease often suffer from "pain or aching, throbbing, tightness, heaviness, feeling of swelling, muscle tiredness, itching, cramps, burning sensations, restless legs, tingling and venous claudication" (Barros et al. 2019).
Peripheral venous disease may also present as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the arms or legs or a pulmonary embolism (PE) in the lungs. It is estimated that over two million Americans suffer from DVTs each year. If these clots embolize, or break free from the vein, they can prove fatal (Bickley 2021).
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What difference can a health history make?
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A thorough health history can provide valuable information needed about the patient's condition and allow the provider to order the appropriate tests. In addition to asking about the patient's current symptoms, a health history for peripheral venous disease should include questions about other medical problems and medications that the patient takes (Barros et al. 2019). It is particularly important to assess the peripheral vascular system because it is responsible for providing oxygen to all parts of the body (Bickley 2021).
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Healthcare providers have a responsibility
to get a thorough and accurate health history.
Providers and nurses should correlate symptoms and history with pathophysiology.
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I've noticed that both of my legs are swollen.
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Venous hypertension can cause dilated capillaries, leading to fluid leaking out of the blood vessel and into tissues (Barros et al. 2019).
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A fracture in the lower extremity puts the patient at a higher risk for developing a blood clot, also known as a DVT, and surgery further increases the risk (Chang et al. 2021).
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I broke my foot two weeks ago - can you believe I had to get surgery to fix it?!
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Image from Shutterstock.com

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