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What are the Risk Factors Associated with Venous Disease?

There are a number of risk factors which can lead to the development of varicose veins.  While not all of these are controllable, some can be directly influenced by the patient.  In many cases, varicose veins are the result of a combination of the following:

Age

50+ - Vein walls weaken as we age, preventing them from pumping blood back to the heart effectively.

Sex

Women are actually up to three times more likely than men to develop venous disease. This is because changes in hormone levels can weaken the vein walls and affect how well the valves work.

 

Pregnancy

In addition to hormonal changes, pregnancy also produces increased blood volume, which can enlarge veins. Those who have had multiple births are also more at risk.

Obesity

Carrying excess weight can increase pressure with the legs and damages veins. If the veins have to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, blood is more likely to pool in the legs.

Lifestyle

The more we move, the more efficient the body becomes and transporting blood. Living a largely sedentary lifestyle does just the opposite and makes it more difficult for veins to do their job properly.

Standing Jobs

Standing for long periods of time can play a major role in venous disease risk as well, as it increases the chance of vein leakage. Those who spend most of the day on their feet, or whose jobs require them to stand all day—such as teachers, cooks, baristas, cleaners, factory line workers, or retail workers—tend to be more at risk for this reason.

Sedentary Jobs

On the flip side, those who sit for long periods of time are also at risk, due to the lack of blood flow. If your job requires that you sit for most of the day, try to stand at least once per hour to help keep blood moving effectively throughout the legs.

Smoking

Just as smoking greatly increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, it also increases your chances for venous disease as it has a significant impact on your cardiovascular system.

Blood Clots

Blood clots throughout the body put you at a higher risk for developing blood clots in the legs.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure in the veins puts stress on the walls of the veins and weakens them. 

How can Venous Disease be Prevented?

While certain risk factors for varicose veins are beyond a patient's control, there are steps that can be taken to minimize veins and their impact on the body. These include:

  • Physical Activity - In order to alleviate pressure in the veins and encourage blood flow, it's important to take regular breaks from sitting by getting up to move and by elevating the legs for 15 minute intervals at least three times per day. Exercise programs such as walking and yoga are also useful to incorporate.

  • Compression Stockings - Damaged veins have difficulty maintaining their proper position. This can lead to the pooling of blood, pain and swelling often associated with varicose veins. Compression stockings can help combat this by aiding in vein placement.

  • Diet & Lifestyle - Eating a healthy diet of proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber can help control weight. Likewise, patients should limit sodium and focus on drinking healthy amounts of water each day.

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