Do you have a close relative who suffers from varicose or spider veins? If so, you may have many questions, especially about how this may put you at risk. Varicose and spider veins are hereditary, although the genetic factors underlying these symptoms of vein disease are unknown. A 2019 study found 9 different genes that are the most likely causal genes, and that these genes influence phenotypes including blood pressure and blood cell traits.
If you know that vein disease runs in your family or are concerned about your risk, our vein specialists are available to discuss your family history in detail. During your consultation, we can also review other risk factors and make individualized treatment recommendations as needed.
What Is Vein Disease?
Varicose and spider veins are signs of underlying vein disease, or venous insufficiency. Vein disease develops when one-way vein valves responsible for pumping blood back to your heart are placed under strain. When this occurs, your valves malfunction and cause blood to flow backward instead. This can lead to blood pooling in the veins , which leads to varicose and spider veins. Most often, the legs, ankles, and feet are affected.
Vein disease causes painful and uncomfortable symptoms. Symptoms of venous insufficiency include:
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Leg pain that feels better when you walk or raise your legs
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Non-healing wounds on your legs
- Difficulty standing for long periods
Vein disease can lead to serious health conditions when left untreated; for example, the development of life-threatening blood clots or venous ulcers (open, non-healing wounds).
When it comes to taking care of your veins, it is important to understand your risk factors. With this information, you can make lifestyle modifications to manage your risks and seek treatment options that are best for your individual needs.
What Causes Vein Disease?
Vein disease occurs when a valve in your vein does not circulate blood to your heart. This causes blood to flow backward and pool in your legs, leading to uncomfortable or painful symptoms. Damaged or weakened valves can make the surrounding valves work harder, contributing to more complications.
Along with malfunctioning vein valves, there are certain factors that may increase your risk of developing vein disease. These risk factors include:
Genetics: Is venous insufficiency hereditary? Family history is the most prevalent cause of varicose veins. If both of your parents have varicose veins, your risk further increases.
Age: As you get older, you have a greater risk for developing malfunctioning veins. While venous issues are more likely to appear after age 50, younger people can also be affected.
Sex: Women are four times more likely than men to develop varicose veins. Pregnancy plays a role in this inequality.
Pregnancy: Due to increased blood flow and hormonal influx, pregnant women are more likely than others to be affected. They are also more likely to experience varicose veins in the pelvic region and the lower extremities.
Prolonged sitting or standing: If you have a job where you are on your feet or sitting down throughout the day, you are at higher risk for developing vein disease because of the increased pressure on your veins.
Obesity: Excess weight puts additional strain on your veins and causes damage. If you are obese or overweight, you are more likely to experience pain and discomfort from varicose veins.
Inactivity: Lack of physical activity affects overall blood circulation and can lead to diseased veins.
Smoking: Along with contributing to other major medical issues, this unhealthy habit can weaken veins and reduce blood flow.
Other underlying health conditions: Poorly managed health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes can result in strained vein valves. This can result in the formation of varicose veins.
Are Varicose Veins Genetic?
Family history is proven to play an important role in the occurrence of varicose veins. A 2018 study found that 61 percent of participants had a family history of varicose veins, and the occurrence was more frequent in patients with a paternal family history of vein disease. While you are not able to control your genes, you can control certain lifestyle influences. To reduce your odds of developing venous insufficiency, we recommend that you:
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing
- Move around frequently throughout the day
- Exercise regularly
- Lose excess weight
- Quit smoking
- Control other underlying health conditions when possible
- Consider wearing compression socks
- Visit a vein specialist regularly
Is Deep Vein Thrombosis Genetic?
Deep Vein Thrombosis is a serious type of blood clot that develops in the deep veins. If left untreated, DVT can break off and travel to the lungs. This can lead to Pulmonary Embolism, a life-threatening situation.
Although not the only cause, genetics may play a role in the development of DVT. If you have venous insufficiency, you are considered at increased risk for DVT. Alternatively, if you’ve experienced DVT, you may be more likely to develop vein disease. Other factors that increase your likelihood of DVT include obesity, inactivity, smoking, trauma to a vein, and cancer.
Varicose and Spider Vein Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
If you are wondering when to get your varicose veins treated, we recommend acting sooner rather than later. Early intervention typically leads to the best health outcomes. If pain and discomfort are impacting your daily activities, we are here to help.
At USA Vein Clinics, we offer a range of minimally invasive, outpatient treatments that can quickly improve your painful, swollen veins. Our vein experts are available to treat your vein disease and help you regain control of your life. Schedule an appointment online today!