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Q: What are venous ulcers and how are they linked to heart disease?

Venous ulcers are a type of sore that can develop on your legs when you have poor circulation due to heart disease. When your heart isn’t pumping properly, it can cause poor blood flow throughout your body. This can lead fluid to pool in your lower body, raising the blood pressure in your legs and feet. This pressure and buildup of fluids can cause surrounding tissues to break down, eventually becoming an open sore.

Unfortunately, once they form, venous ulcers can become non-healing wounds. That’s because good circulation is important for healing. Your body needs an abundant supply of fresh, oxygen-rich blood to bring nutrients and immune cells to the wound area. So when you have poor blood flow, wounds in your feet and legs have a harder time healing, making them at higher risk of infection.

Swelling, pain, tingling, and discoloration in the legs and feet are warning signs that pressure is rising and you may be at risk of venous ulcers. Elevating the legs and using compression therapy can help, so talk with your doctor if you have symptoms.

If you develop venous ulcers, it’s important to seek proper wound care to avoid infection. At a wound clinic, providers can treat the problem by reducing pressure in the legs to improve circulation, caring for the sore with appropriate dressings, and prescribing antibiotics if necessary.

You can also reduce your risk of venous ulcers by taking care of your heart with a healthy lifestyle. By eating a heart healthy diet, staying physically active, getting enough sleep, and taking medications as prescribed, you’ll keep your circulation strong for better wound healing.

Maui Memorial Medical Center’s Wound Care and Hyperbaric Therapy Clinic provides a comprehensive approach to wound healing, including advanced care for non-healing wounds. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 808-986-4500 or visit

Jason M. Laird, MD

Internal Medicine

Maui Memorial Medical Center Wound Care and Hyperbaric Therapy
95 Maui Lani Parkway, Suite B
Wailuku, HI 96793