Take a Stand Against Vein Disease

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John T. Eagan, Jr., MD, FACC

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Debbie Riemer, PAC, RPhS

Your Leg Pain Can’t Wait

How do you know if you are suffering from vein disease? Answer these questions:

  • Do you have ankle and/or leg swelling?
  • Do you have a dull ache or heaviness in the legs after standing or sitting for long periods of time?
  • Do you have tired legs?
  • Do you have enlarged veins close to the surface of your skin?
  • Do you have changes in skin color including brown, red or pink areas?
  • Do your legs feel leathery or itchy?

The Vein Clinic at Cardiovascular Associates (CVA) is here for you and accepting new patients. Under the direction of Dr. Tom Eagan and Deborah Riemer, PAC, RPhS, our team is committed to treating your leg pain. With two locations to serve you, our Colonnade Parkway location and also our new location at Preserve Parkway in Hoover, you are one phone call away from diagnosing your condition and working with you on a solution for recovery.

3980 Colonnade Pkwy, Birmingham, AL 35243
5295 Preserve Pkwy. Suite 250, Hoover, AL 35244

Make that appointment today! Call 205-541-6074 today!

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Debbie Riemer, PAC, RPhS

Q: Tell us about your experience in vein care.
A: I’ve been a surgical physician assistant since 1992. I did cardiovascular thoracic surgery for 18 years, and I began focusing on vein procedures and leg work in 2010.
Dr. Tom Eagan, the lead surgeon here at the Vein Center, is an extraordinarily well-trained and skilled cardiologist with an extensive background in invasive and interventional cardiac, peripheral vascular and venous interventions. Over the years, we’ve learned so much about the legs, the skin changes and issues that so many other physicians may misdiagnose or not diagnose at all.

Q: What led you to focus on vein issues?
A: During cardiac surgery, we harvest the veins from the leg to put them in the heart. For many years, we’d see a lot of patients with swelling after the procedures, for no reason that we knew of at the time. Through research we learned that the issue was lymphedema.
I realized that there’s so many patients with these lymphatic diseases, and nobody was treating them correctly. I learned that vascular disease is actually far more prevalent than arterial disease. It is just very underdiagnosed.

Q: Exactly how prevalent are vein issues?
A: According to the American Heart Association, venous reflux disease is two times more prevalent than coronary heart disease and five times more prevalent than peripheral arterial disease. So it is very significant. Varicose veins are seen in 40% of the population, and Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is estimated to affect over 30 million people, but only 1.9 million seek treatment each year. Our goal is to educate the public so that we can properly diagnose these issues.

Q: Women seem to be affected more than men. Why is that?
A: Genetics is the number one cause of vein disease, but the main factor influencing the prevalence among women is pregnancy. The more children a woman has, the more likely she is to develop vein issues.

Q: What are the other causes of vein disease?
A: Any kind of trauma to the legs — from a softball to a motor vehicle accident — can cause vein dysfunction. Ergonomics and the type of work you do can also affect your vein health. If you are on your feet a lot, wear improperly fitted shoes or stand on hard concrete floors, all of these things come into play.

Q: When you think of vein issues, the first thing that comes to mind is spider veins or varicose veins. Are there other common symptoms for underlying vein disease?
A: Restless leg syndrome (having fidgety, jumpy legs when you first get in bed), swelling and achiness in the leg, bulging veins, leg cramps — all of these can be caused by vein issues, but they may have other causes as well.

Q: How does the vein center diagnose vein issues?
A: During your initial appointment, we review your symptoms to get an idea of whether it’s vein related or vascular related, then we do a venous ultrasound to check the superficial vein system. This will tell us if the valves in the veins are working correctly. Veins have valves in them, and arteries don’t, so they’re very different vessels. If the valves are malfunctioning, then we can compare what we see on ultrasound to what the patient’s symptoms are and determine if a venous procedure is warranted to help their symptoms get better.