Varicose veins may form when veins lose their elasticity and the valves fail to work properly. Blood begins to pool, which causes veins to expand. Varicose veins may appear large and bulging and are often a source of great embarrassment for patients suffering from them. Many patients may even make changes to their everyday life to avoid exposing their legs or other areas containing varicose veins.
The first step in reducing one's risk of varicose veins is to understand possible causes. Pregnancy may lead to varicose veins as the volume of blood in the body during pregnancy is increased and blood flow between the pelvic region and the legs is disrupted. Varicose veins that occur during pregnancy usually go away on their own after the mother gives birth.
As people age, their veins may lose elasticity, which may lead to inefficient valves in the veins. Valves open to let blood through and close to prevent blood from flowing backwards. Varicose veins are caused when the valves do not work properly and blood is allowed to flow backwards, causing veins to expand.
Reducing One's Risk of Varicose Veins
Fortunately, there are certain lifestyle changes that one may make to lessen their risk of varicose veins. Some patients may be encouraged to stop wearing tight fitting garments such as panty hose or stockings. These may restrict blood flow, which may prevent healthy circulation. Wearing low heeled shoes is also helpful, as these work the calf muscles better than high heeled shoes. Contracting muscles help the veins move blood back up the legs to the heart.
Losing weight may also be helpful, as overweight or obese individuals put a lot of pressure on their legs. Exercising is not only helpful in shedding pounds to reduce the pressure on the legs, but is also helpful in promoting healthy circulation. Walking, jogging and running are great ways to stay in shape and improve circulation. Before beginning any exercise program, however, patients should consult their doctor.
Doctors also recommend raising the legs above the heart to improve blood flow. Veins are constantly battling gravity to move blood back up the legs to the heart. Elevating the legs may be a great help.
Other risk factors associated with varicose veins are age and sex. Of course, these risk factors are impossible to avoid, but by staying healthy and making a few lifestyle changes, patients may greatly reduce their risk of varicose veins.