Am I at Risk of Varicose Veins?

needle about to burst a balloon to illustrate risk of varicose veins
September 30, 2022 0 Comments

It sounds like you already know what varicose veins are, what they look like, what causes them, and that you definitely don’t want to run the risk of varicose veins treatment in the future! So in this article, we’ll run through five factors in life that can bring you a risk of varicose veins:

  • Standing still for long periods
  • Sitting with no muscle movement
  • Weight gain
  • Aging
  • Pregnancy

Plus some tips to counteract each risk!

Risk #1: Standing Still For Long Periods

Movement of any kind helps your vein valves with their job of moving blood upwards – against the pull of gravity. Standing for too long without some kind of muscle-flexing (like soldiers are trained to do!) causes the veins extra work to keep the blood flowing easily back to your heart.

On the other hand, if you stand around too much, regularly, the veins eventually can start to bulge and let blood drain backwards past the valves.

Sometimes, you have no choice but to stand for hours, for example in your job. In this case, try the following to help you challenge this risk of varicose veins:

  • Avoid wearing high heels. We know they make you feel more confident and beautiful, but wearing high heels while standing for hours isn’t advisable. High heels shift weight to the front of your foot and toes, and cause your calf muscles to stay contracted. The calf muscles can’t then pump the blood back up your veins, and it pools.
  • Try shifting your weight from one leg to the other often. Soldiers apparently flex forward slightly on their toes, which is another option.
  • Find a place where you can sit and elevate your legs higher than the level of your heart for at least 15 minutes before going back to standing.

Risk #2: Sitting For Hours With No Muscle Movement

Sitting for hours is not an alternative to the standing problem!

Just like with standing, sitting makes the veins work harder and leads to poor blood circulation in the legs. As we said, veins depend on muscle contractions to send blood upwards.

If you have to sit for several hours, try these ideas:

  • Get up and move around every 30 minutes or so. It might not be easy to interrupt being a couch potato on a Friday night, but it’s crucial!
  • Avoid crossing your legs for too long. This is something many of us are guilty of, but it’s a habit to keep in mind and break regularly. It compresses veins and inhibits circulation.
  • Elevate your legs, as above, to encourage gravity to come into play while you watch box-sets from your sofa.
  • Flex your toe and calf muscles often while working at a desk. You’ll look fidgety but your veins will thank you! And your risk of varicose veins developing will recede.

Risk #3: Gaining Extra Weight

When you put on weight, you increase pressure on your legs and joints – and specifically on your veins. Leg veins are the lowest in your body and the most at risk of varicose vein formation. Fat deposits in your calves can also weaken and restrict your veins.

Try these ways to prevent weight gain and relieve your risk of varicose veins.

  • Be more active. If you’re sedentary or doing minimal physical activity, bring some daily walking (30 minutes at a brisk pace) or light cardio into your routine.
  • Reconsider your diet. A nutritious, balanced diet, low in salt and high in fiber, will help you reach and maintain a healthier weight.

Risk #4: Aging

As we get older – especially aged 40 onwards – our veins lose elasticity, and the risk of varicose veins increases. It’s part of normal aging.

The only way to counteract this aging process to any degree is to stay mobile, active, busy – and motivated to stay as healthy and involved with life as possible. Any of these things increases your chance of avoiding varicose veins – you won’t stay still, stand still, gain weight, or succumb to the “it’s just age” outlook!

And if your veins do start to trouble you, call us for a consultation.

Risk #5: Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body focuses all its efforts on creating a new life! This can put significant strain on you and your veins because

  • increased hormone levels relax the vein walls,
  • your growing womb adds pressure on your pelvic area, and
  • your inevitable weight gain can lead to gravity gaining the upper hand over your vein walls!

The good news is that, even if being pregnant is a risk factor, there are many ways to ease the discomfort. And crucially, after birth, most women find their veins improve and return to normal!

Try these tips:

  • Watch your diet: Make sure you don’t eat too much salt; increase your fiber intake; drink plenty of water. Your diet needs to help you not strain to pass a motion.
  • Add regular exercise to your daily routine but check with your doctor first to see what’s suitable at each stage of pregnancy.
  • Avoid the risk factors listed above!
  • Sleep on your left side to keep pressure away from the inferior vena cava, the vein carrying the blood from your legs to your heart.
  • Discuss with your doctor what type of compression socks or stockings you could wear – they help by squeezing the veins and preventing the blood from pooling.

How Can I Know if I Already Have Varicose Veins Forming?

We haven’t written about the additional risk factors of being female or smoking, but if you think you might be at risk of varicose veins and you’re already experiencing any of the symptoms below, get in touch with a good vein doctor sooner rather than later:

  • Leg cramps
  • Restless legs
  • Visible bulging veins on your leg
  • The skin around your vein changes to blue/red
  • Heavy swollen legs
  • Itchy and/or burning sensation in your legs

We Can Help You!

Having one or more of the risk factors for varicose veins doesn’t mean you’ll develop them. But our team here at Denver Vein is highly trained and specialized in varicose vein treatments and can help you with risk factors and remedies! Contact us today for a consultation and remove your worries!

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Article Name
Am I at Risk of Varicose Veins?
Having one or more of the contributing factors for risk of varicose veins doesn’t mean you’ll develop them – but check them out and be safe!