Veins are blood vessels that return deoxygenated blood from various parts of the body back to the heart and lungs. When these veins become unusually large, twisted and turned, they are called varicose veins. This usually happens in the legs and thighs.
The precise cause of varicose veins is unknown but a number of contributory risk factors have been identified. In the US, it is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the adult population suffers from varicose veins.
Risk factors are as follows:
- Valve malfunctioning which some believe to be a hereditary problem.
- Abnormalities of the vein wall from birth. Resulting in a reverse flow of blood when standing up or exercising.
- Age related – the incidence increases between the ages of 30 and 70.
- Obesity can trigger the condition.
- Pregnancy which results in increased progesterone, blood and pressure in the body especially the pelvic region.
- Hormonal changed during pregnancy, pre and post menopause.
- Occupations that require prolonged seating or standing.
Women are more prone to being affected than men. Age is another risk factor with the condition appearing between the ages of 30 and 70. Obesity is another risk factor.
Varicose veins cannot be prevented, but the onset and progression of the condition can be slowed by following certain measures.
- Do not cross legs while seated.
- Do not sit or stand for extended periods of time.
- Keep to a healthy weight.
- Do not wear tight clothing which might constrict blood supply below the waist.
- Reduce salt intake to minimize water retention.
- Use elastic support stockings
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