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Varicose veins -- could you be at risk?

Older people and women are at an increased risk of developing varicose veins, which in severe case may cause clinical complications.

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Updated : March 30, 2015 5:08 PM IST

Risk factors of varicose veinsVaricose veins are swollen and twisted veins seen under the skin surface. These veins are a common condition that usually doesn't cause any clinical problems, but in some cases, may lead to severe complication leading to pain, blood clots, skin ulcers and bleeding. This requires medical treatment followed by few lifestyle changes for early recovery from this condition. Although varicose veins are normally observed in the legs, they can also occur in other parts of the body. There are few risk factors that put you at an increased risk of developing varicose veins such as

  • Age Older people (above 50 years of age) are at an increased risk of developing varicose veins due to normal wear and tear of the veins. The veins have one-way valves (for unidirectional flow of blood to the heart) which with time may lead to weakening or damage of the valves causing build-up of blood in the veins. This causes the veins to swell and lead to varicose veins.
  • Gender Women are comparatively at a greater risk to get varicose veins than men. This is mainly attributed to the hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause (and also use of oral contraception).
  • Family history Varicose veins is heredity (it runs in families). The chances of developing varicose veins doubles, if a person has a family member suffering from the condition.
  • Sedentary job In case your job requires standing or sitting (especially with your legs crossed or bent) for a long time, your chances of developing varicose veins is high. This is because lack of movement causes the veins to pump blood harder to the heart.
  • Pregnancy Hormonal changes (oestrogen stimulation) coupled with an increased pressure from the uterus increases the risk of getting varicose veins in pregnant women. This causes blood vessels in the legs to pop out and grow in size requiring clinical treatment to deal with it.

Image Source: Getty Images

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  1. Callam, M. J. (1994). Epidemiology of varicose veins. British journal of surgery, 81(2), 167-173.
  2. Kroeger, K., Ose, C., Rudofsky, G., Roesener, J., & Hirche, H. (2004). Risk factors for varicose veins. International angiology: a journal of the International Union of Angiology, 23(1), 29-34.

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