Back To CourseCritical Care Nursing
26 chapters | 355 lessons
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 75,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.Try it risk-free
Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.
Susan is a 69-year-old woman who has a very unhealthy diet, smokes, and is physically inactive. Over the past several months, she has noticed the formation of open wounds, or ulcers, on her legs.
David is a 66-year-old man who also has a very unhealthy diet, smokes, sits down for most of the day, and doesn't like to exercise. David has also noticed ulcers forming on his legs.
One would think that the ulcers on Susan's and David's legs would be caused by the same processes, since they both live very similar lifestyles. The ulcers on their legs are very similar, but they were caused by different physiological changes to their bodies. Susan's ulcers were caused by damage to the veins in her legs, while David's ulcers were caused by damage to the arteries of his legs. This lesson will describe the differences between these two types of ulcers.
Ulcers are lesions or wounds to a tissue in the body, usually skin or intestinal tissue. One of the main causes of ulcers is poor blood flow to the tissue. Blood provides oxygen and other nutrients to tissue, and this blood and oxygen are required for the health and survival of the tissue. If blood flow is decreased or completely blocked to a tissue, the tissue will not receive enough oxygen and nutrients, and this can result in the death of the tissue and the formation of ulcers.
Arteries are the blood vessels that bring blood away from the heart to all areas of the body. Arterial ulcers are formed due to blockages in the arteries. These blockages are formed by plaque buildup. Plaque in the arteries refers to fat and cholesterol that accumulates in the arteries. This accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the arteries is the result of unhealthy eating, smoking, and being physically inactive. As this plaque continues to accumulate, the arteries become narrower and narrower, decreasing the blood flow through the vessels. This process is called atherosclerosis.
As the arteries get blocked more and more by plaque buildup, the blood flow to skin tissues decreases, eventually causing damage to the skin, leading to ulcer formation. These arterial ulcers usually form on the lower extremities, including the legs and feet.
While arterial ulcers are caused by damage to the arteries, venous ulcers are caused by damage to the veins. Veins are the blood vessels that bring blood from various parts of the body back to the heart. These veins bring blood back to the heart with the help of one-way valves that prevent the blood from flowing backwards. Without these valves, the blood would not be able to flow back into to the heart. If the blood is not able to flow back to the heart, the blood will begin to collect or pool in an area of the body. This pooling usually occurs in the lower extremities, like the legs and feet.
When the blood pools in the legs and feet, this can prevent the tissues from getting the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients from the blood. Since the tissues in the legs and feet do not get enough oxygen and nutrients, they will begin to die, forming venous ulcers.
Old age, poor diet, inactivity, and smoking can all contribute to the destruction of the venous valves. Additionally, venous ulcers may be caused by previous leg injuries, such as broken bones and other trauma. These injuries can directly damage the venous valves, leading to venous ulcers. Venous ulcers are much more common compared to arterial ulcers and account for up to 80% of all ulcers of the lower extremities.
Ulcers are wounds to the skin, usually caused by poor blood flow, which prevents the skin from getting enough oxygen and other nutrients. Venous ulcers and arterial ulcers are two different types of ulcers, both of which most often occur on legs and feet. Even though these ulcers look pretty much the same, their causes are quite different.
Venous ulcers are caused by damage to the veins in the body; specifically, damage to the one-way valves in the vein. These one-way valves prevent blood from flowing back into the veins. When they are damaged, blood begins to pool, especially in the lower extremities. This pooling of blood prevents the tissues in the legs from getting the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in the formation of venous ulcers. Damaged valves can be the result of unhealthy lifestyles, as well as severe leg injuries.
Arterial ulcers are caused by blockages in the arteries throughout the body, especially on the legs and feet. These arteries are blocked by buildup of fat and cholesterol called plaque, which is a process called atherosclerosis. Since the arteries get blocked, blood cannot flow through these arteries, preventing blood from reaching various tissues. This prevents the tissues from getting enough oxygen and nutrients, resulting in the formation of arterial ulcers.
Another difference between venous and arterial ulcers is that venous ulcers are much more common, accounting for up to 80% of ulcers on the legs and feet.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Already a member? Log InBack
Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Back To CourseCritical Care Nursing
26 chapters | 355 lessons
Next LessonCurling's Ulcer: Symptoms, Assessment & Treatment