Varicose Veins and Aging
Although older adults are most susceptible to varicose veins, you can take steps at any age to prevent or eliminate them.
If you have varicose veins, you are not alone. The Society for Vascular Surgery estimates varicose veins affect 35 percent of Americans. Although swollen, painful veins can strike at any age, older people are more likely to experience varicose veins. According to one study, 22 million women and 11 million men between the ages of 40 and 80 experience the visible signs and symptoms of varicose veins.
Although advanced age is one risk factor for varicose veins, the condition is not an inevitable part of aging. Taking care of your veins is a lifelong commitment. If you want to prevent varicose veins, start now by practicing good vascular health habits and pursuing treatment for this treatable medical condition.
Why Varicose Veins Happen As We Grow Older
Within our veins are tiny valves tasked with pushing blood back to the heart. As we grow older, those valves lose their elasticity and firmness, allowing blood to collect within the vein walls. The excess blood can stretch veins outward from under the skin, forming raised, twisted varicose veins. Veins in the leg are particularly vulnerable to this effect, as they’re furthest from the heart.
Varicose veins cause a slew of uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, heaviness, and cramps in the legs. Significant swelling can also occur as fluid leaks from the enlarged vein. What’s more, varicose veins may cause slow-healing ulcers and infections if not treated. In addition, because the swollen veins are so close to the skin’s surface, a slight bump or scratch can result in excessive bleeding. Far from being a cosmetic issue, varicose veins contribute to a diminished quality of life and deserve medical attention.
You can avoid those unpleasant side effects and the unsightly appearance of varicose veins by maintaining healthy veins throughout your lifetime. At any age, these four tips will keep your veins strong as you grow older.
Stay Active. Exercises which tone the calf muscles counteract the loss of strength and flexibility in the veins and vein valves. Walking, biking, and swimming, in particular, build up muscle strength and support the leg veins as they pump blood back to the heart. Standing or sitting for too long increases the pressure on vein valves, leading to pooling of blood and eventually varicose veins. So if you work at a job where you sit for long hours at a desk or stand for prolonged periods, take a few minutes to walk around to energize your muscles and veins. Simple exercises such as ankle flexes keep the blood pumping, as well.
Manage Your Weight. Each excess pound of weight adds to the volume of blood in your body. With more blood to pump, the valves become strained and weaken. Managing your weight at its ideal level lightens the stress on your veins and prevents the development of varicose veins. Regular workouts and a healthy diet that eliminates salt and is filled with fruits and vegetables protects against varicose veins.
Wear Compression Stockings. These tightly woven elastic stockings compress the leg veins, thereby providing them with the extra reinforcement needed to push blood out of the vein. Depending upon the amount of swelling caused by your varicose veins, you can either buy a commercially available pair in a drugstore that is of lesser strength or request a higher grade from a doctor. If you’re given a prescription, you’ll need to be professionally fitted for the stockings.
Seek Treatment. If the above self-care methods fail to alleviate the discomfort of varicose veins, it’s time to see a vein specialist. Current modalities of treatment use heat or a safe solution to seal off and shrink the damaged vein. These minimally invasive procedures, as well as newer methods, take only minutes in a doctor’s office. You leave the same day and recover almost immediately with very little discomfort.
Time to Take Care of Your Veins
At any age, vein health is important. The physicians and staff at Center for Vein Restoration offer the latest surgical techniques as well as non-surgical approaches to minimize the pain and swelling of varicose veins. Talk to us today about how you can ensure healthy veins for a lifetime.