About 20 percent of the U.S. population will suffer from varicose veins at some point during their lives, according to data from the National Institutes of Health. While anyone can develop varicose veins, they’re more common among people with specific risk factors, including people who are overweight or obese. Here’s why.
Varicose Veins and Your Weight
Varicose veins form when tiny valves inside your veins malfunction. In a healthy vein, these little valves open and close very rapidly to help push your blood back toward your heart and lungs. But when these valves are damaged or weakened, they don’t open and close the way they’re supposed to, and that means your blood can pool and collect inside your veins, increasing pressure on both the damaged valves and the vein walls. Over time, this increased pressure damages the valves, causing them to stop working properly. It can also cause the vein to stretch, resulting in the twisted, bulging appearance that’s characteristic of many varicose veins.
But if damaged valves are what causes varicose veins, what causes the valves to become damaged in the first place? There are several factors. Older age is a major factor. As we get older, our veins are subjected to an increasing amount of wear and tear, which can weaken the valves over time. Women are also more likely to develop varicose veins, probably as a result of the fluctuations in their levels of estrogen. And if you spend a lot of time standing or sitting, you’re also at an increased risk for varicose veins.
Being overweight or obese is another big risk factor for varicose veins, especially in your legs and feet. These areas are already subjected to a lot of pressure as they support the rest of your body all day long. When you’re overweight, the pressure on your veins also increases, and that places a lot of extra strain on the tiny valves inside your veins.
Since extra pounds place excess pressure on your leg veins, it makes sense that losing weight can help reduce that pressure — and therefore help reduce your risk for developing varicose veins. Eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet is one of the best ways to shed pounds while still supporting a healthy heart and circulatory system. And it’s also important to get plenty of exercise. To avoid placing more stress on your veins, avoid exercises like wight-lifting and high-impact sports, and opt for low-impact activities like walking, swimming and yoga.
Safe, Effective Varicose Vein Treatment
Varicose veins can be ugly, but their unattractive appearance is just one symptom they can cause. Many varicose veins cause pain, throbbing and fatigue, especially after a period of walking, standing or sitting still. And sometimes, they can be a sign of other vein problems, including a much more serious underlying condition called deep vein thrombosis or DVT, which occurs when a clot forms in the deeper veins of your leg. That’s why varicose veins should never be ignored, even if they’re not causing bothersome symptoms.
At the Vein and Vascular Institute of New Jersey, Dr. Charles Dietzek offers the most advanced vein treatment options to help relieve pain and other symptoms while also improving overall circulation in the area. Today’s varicose vein treatments use minimally-invasive approaches for fast recovery and limited to no downtime. To learn more about varicose vein treatment or to schedule a vein evaluation, call the Vein and Vascular Institute of New Jersey at 856-309-9777 today.