What Are Varicose Veins?
The causes of varicose veins and the risk factors causing them has been neglected for a long time. More than 40 million Americans have vein disease and most of them are not sure how to prevent or treat them. Now, at last, there is a solution.
Varicose veins are large, swollen veins, usually presenting in the lower extremities. Standing and walking upright increases the pressure of the veins making the most commonly affected veins in the legs. Any vein in the leg, whether deep, superficial, or perforating vein, has the potential to become varicosed. The varicosity may be obvious while looking at the legs, or may just present pain and cramping symptoms if the varicosity is deeper.
Ultimately, varicose veins are a symptom of a more serious, progressive condition known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency, or vein disease. Due to the progressive nature of these symptoms, in some cases, varicose veins can rupture or develop into varicose ulcers.
What causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are caused by increased blood pressure in the leg veins. Blood moves toward the heart by one-way valves in the veins. When these valves become weak due to sitting or standing for a long period, hormonal changes, blood clots, obesity, or other conditions or habits, blood can collect in the veins—resulting in swollen, bulging, painful varicose veins.
Where are Varicose Veins?
Typically, varicose veins are found on the legs. The veins in the legs are the furthest from the heart, and due to the effect of gravity, there is increased stress on the leg veins, which can negatively affect the blood flow and weaken the valves more quickly than other extremities.
Who gets Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can occur in men and women of any age, but pregnant women, women who have had multiple pregnancies, and elderly people tend to be most commonly affected. A family history of varicose veins also increases other relative’s risk of developing varicose veins. Obesity, prolonged standing or sitting, or a history of surgeries or blood clots in the lower extremities are also considered risk factors for developing varicose veins.
Varicose Veins in Male and Female Population
Due to hormonal changes and treatments (like contraceptives) women are more likely to develop varicose veins. When vein walls become more relaxed due to pregnancy or menopause, varicose veins can become a worsening issue. During pregnancy, the volume of blood increases, producing enlarged veins in the legs.
How Weight and Obesity Contribute
Being overweight adds pressure to the veins making it difficult for blood to flow upward against gravity. This also plays into the increased risk in varicose veins for pregnant women, or women who have had multiple pregnancies – the weight gain associated with pregnancy can also put additional pressure on the veins.
When do we get Varicose Veins?
The risk of varicose veins increases with age. Age causes the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow to slowly wear down. This results in the blood collecting instead of flowing up toward the heart.
How can we avoid Varicose Veins?
There is a solution for treating and slowing the progression of varicose veins. Besides avoiding smoking, remaining active, and maintaining a healthy weight, you can avoid the more serious effects and secondary conditions associated with varicose veins by getting tested if you have risk factors, present any symptoms, or know you have a family history.
At Center for Vein Restoration, we can determine the health of your veins through a simple ultrasound scan and recommend treatment. Treatment can be as simple as preventative lifestyle changes or prescription compression stockings; but if you need a procedure to treat your veins, our nationwide network of centers can provide a wide variety of care plans to suit your needs.
Armin Foghi MD, PhD is the lead CVR physician in New Mexico with locations in Roswell and Rio Rancho. He specializes in Cardiovascular Disease and vein disease. He is an assistant professor at university of New Mexico Medical School, and was previously Director of Cardiology at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center.
Before joining CVR in 2019 he was founder and medical director of Myo Cardiovascular Clinic. He holds a PhD in Cell molecular Biology and Genetics.