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Causes of Varicose Veins

Causes of Varicose Veins

Identifying Varicose Veins

Causes of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are visibly enlarged veins that are most often seen on a person’s leg. The veins turn blue or purple and push on the skin, creating a bulge. The condition affects approximately 15% of men and 25% of women in the United States. Although they can appear anywhere along the length of the legs (from the ankle to the groin), they most frequently appear on the inside of the legs or on the rear of the calves. Spider veins are similar to varicose veins however they are smaller and appear closer to the skin.

Causes of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are a result of blood pooling in the veins (usually in the legs and ankles). Blood can pool in the legs when the veins don’t have the ability to push it back up to the lungs and heart. Veins lose their ability to properly move blood when their valves or walls become weak or damaged. In healthy veins, the valves keep the blood flowing efficiently in one direction against the force of gravity up toward the heart. However if these valves stop functioning properly, blood will pool in the legs. Pressure will build and the veins will weaken, become enlarged and twisted.

Some people may be genetically predisposed to acquire varicose or spider veins. If someone in your family has spider or varicose veins, then you are more likely to develop them too. There are a variety of other factors that play a role in the acquisition of varicose and spider veins. They include:

  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Hormone therapy 
  • Increased age 
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time

Many of the above conditions place increased pressure on the veins in the legs. Simple changes in lifestyle can play a role in warding off vein diseases. Exercising and maintaining a healthy diet are a good place to start. Even a small to moderate amount of exercise that targets the legs can reveal large health benefits. By moving your legs, you are flexing your muscles which helps the veins push the blood uphill to the heart. Take a few minutes every hour or two to get up and move.


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