What Causes Varicose Veins

Healthy veins have valves within them that stop blood from remaining stagnant or flowing back. These valves open and close so that blood can only flow in one direction. If these valves become damaged or weakened, or stretched out and less flexible, they may allow blood to flow back and accumulate in the vein, which is what causes veins to become swollen and enlarged.

Experts aren’t sure exactly why veins lose their valve function, or cause blood to accumulate in the vein, but there are some risk factors that can cause varicose veins to form on parts of your body:

  • Your gender – females are much more likely to have varicose veins on their legs than males
  • Genetics – varicose veins often run in families, so it may simply be in your DNA to develop varicose veins
  • Being overweight – Overweight or obese people have a significantly higher risk of developing varicose veins, due to strain on the circulatory system caused by carrying that extra weight around.
  • Pregnancy – Women are much more likely to develop varicose veins during pregnancy than at any other time in their lives. After all, a pregnant woman has much more blood flowing through her body than she does when she’s not pregnant, and that extra blood places extra pressure on the circulatory system. Plus, pregnancy hormone changes can also lead to relaxation of the blood vessel walls, which can also lead to varicose veins. And as the uterus grows during pregnancy, more pressure is placed on the veins in the woman’s pelvic area, which also can lead to varicose veins.
  • Age – It’s just a fact of the aging process. As time marches on, our bodies may weaken and our veins weaken as well, which can lead to the development of varicose veins.
  • Your job – If your job requires you to stand up for long periods of time, the pressure on your veins can raise your risk of developing varicose veins.

Talk to your doctor about which risk factors you have for developing varicose veins, and what might be raising your risk for them worsening. Getting them treated is certainly an option, but you don’t want to maintain an unhealthy weight or stand for too long during the day, developing more vein issues that you may want treated in the future.

Your doctor can also tell you if you need treatment at all, or if your varicose veins put you at risk for further health issues.

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