Varicose veins are caused by increased blood pressure in the veins.
Varicose veinsoccur in veins close to the surface of the skin (superficial). Blood moves to the heart through one-way valves in the veins. When the valves weaken or become damaged, blood can pool in the veins.
Weak or damaged valves can cause varicose veins. Arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The veins return blood from the rest of the body to the heart. For blood to return to the heart, the veins in the legs must work against gravity.
A condition known as superficial venous insufficiency is the primary cause of varicose veins. The tiny valves in the veins usually open to allow blood to flow to the heart before closing. This creates a one-way route for blood and prevents any backflow. For people who suffer from venous insufficiency, those valves are broken, allowing blood to clot in the veins.
This causes an increase in pressure and makes the veins appear to bulge out, while causing pain and swelling. Varicose veins are a common condition caused by weak or damaged venous walls and valves. The veins have one-way valves inside them that open and close to keep blood flowing to the heart. Weak or damaged valves or vein walls can cause blood to pool and even flow backwards.
The veins can become enlarged and distorted, resulting in varicose veins. Visit How the Heart Works for more information on blood flow to and from the heart. Varicose veins are often caused by weak venous walls and valves. Any condition that puts excessive pressure on the legs or abdomen can cause varicose veins.
The most common pressure inducers are pregnancy, obesity, and standing for long periods of time. Chronic constipation and, in rare cases, tumors can also cause varicose veins. Being sedentary can also contribute to varicosity because muscles that are out of condition offer poor blood-pumping action. Varicose veins are a common disorder affecting about 23 percent of adults in the United States, of whom women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop them.
If you're pregnant, your doctor may recommend compression therapy and pain medications to ease the symptoms of varicose veins, such as pain or heaviness in your legs. Your doctor may recommend compression therapy as a treatment alone or after a procedure to remove or close varicose veins. This suggests that varicose veins may be caused in part by genes (the units of genetic material that you inherit from your parents). While being pregnant may increase the risk of developing varicose veins, most women find that their veins improve significantly after the baby is born.
An inactive lifestyle can also cause varicose veins because the muscles in the legs aren't prepared to pump blood. The NHLBI is committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart and vascular diseases, including varicose veins. Varicose veins can be caused by the weakening of the valves (incompetent valves) within the veins that allow blood to pool in the veins instead of traveling to the heart. Most doctors now recommend procedures to correct the reflux problem that is causing varicose veins.
You may also have a higher risk of developing varicose veins if you are older, sit or stand for long periods of time, lead an inactive lifestyle, or have a family history of varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, a type of venous thromboembolism. Although genetics play a role in your risk of developing varicose veins, there are things you can do to prevent them. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and your varicose veins, your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments or no treatment at all. Although varicose veins are mostly a superficial problem, they can also cause pain and discomfort, as they hinder circulation to the affected appendages.
While most cases of varicose veins are harmless and do not require a doctor's visit, at best they are unattractive and, at worst, hazardous to health. This health topic focuses on varicose veins in the legs, but sometimes varicose veins form in other parts of the body. .