Are Vein Disorders Hereditary?
Vein disorders that lead to the appearance of varicose veins often cause uncomfortable symptoms that can impact your quality of life overall. In addition, the cosmetic concern over the visible veins may lead you to avoid certain clothing or activities out of embarrassment over your appearance. Many of us want to know what we can do to avoid vein disorders and the dreaded varicose veins. While you can’t do much to alter your gene pool, there are factors that will lower your risk for varicose veins, particularly if your family history is working against you.
The Underlying Cause of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are frequently the result of an underlying condition known as chronic venous insufficiency or CVI. This condition occurs when small valves inside the veins stop working properly, allowing blood to back up into the vessel. The reflux of blood leads to weakening of the vessel and varicosity. This condition is most common in the lower leg veins, since they are working against gravity to push blood back up the body and are the most likely to wear out over time.
Can you blame Mom and Dad?
There is a definite indication that CVI and varicose veins may be hereditary. If you have one parent with varicose veins, your risk of developing them goes up by 40 percent. If both your parents have them, your risk goes all the way up to 90 percent.
Despite the compelling numbers, scientists are exactly sure how the genetic component comes into play. There is no specific gene that appears to be related to vein conditions like CVI and varicose veins. Some theorize that the genetic component may actually have to do with the strength of the vessels themselves. If your parent has veins that are more prone to fail over time, you may be more likely to have them as well.
Other Varicose Vein Causes
While genes may play a role in the development of CVI and varicose veins, they are not the only factor to consider. Other risk factors for these conditions include:
- Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle
- Occupations with long periods of standing or sitting
- A personal or family history of blood clots
- Hormonal changes, particularly during pregnancy
- Gender and age (older women are the most likely to sport those bulging vessels)
If you have one or more of the risk factors listed above, you may want to be more intentional about taking preventative steps to lower the likelihood you will develop CVI and varicose veins. For example, if you are mostly sedentary, you can begin an exercise regimen to get those calf muscles working to support your lower leg veins. You can also shed excess weight to relieve some of the strain on those hard-working vessels.
If you spend much of your day on your feet, carve out some rest periods where you can sit with your legs elevated. If you work behind a desk, schedule time to get up and walk every hour. You can also talk to your physician about wearing compression stockings during the day to maintain health blood flow.
Even if you are diligent in your preventative efforts, you may still see a varicose vein or two form over time. The good news is that there are many minimally-invasive methods of treating these swollen vessels today. The procedures available work just as effectively on patients with a higher risk of varicose veins, like a family history, as those that do not have any risk factors.
Don’t suffer the pain and embarrassment of CVI or varicose veins. Learn more about preventative efforts or find out what your treatments options might be at Center for Vein Restoration.