Why Do I Have Varicose Veins?

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Over 80 million Americans experience vein problems, and one of the most common is varicose veins. But what are the causes of varicose veins?
Varicose veins form when the vein’s valve—which stops blood from flowing backwards—becomes weak and can no longer stop that reverse blood flow. The blood leaks backwards and settles, stretching and enlarging the vein, and causing a varicose vein to form. It’s a condition that affects both men and women, and can strike people of any age. Here are a few of most common factors in the development of varicose veins:
Family history
Simply put, if you have a family member who suffers from varicose veins, you are much more likely to develop the condition.
A pregnant woman’s body produces extra blood for the survival of the baby. This extra blood puts excess stress on a woman’s veins, especially the ones in her legs that have to work harder to battle gravity and bring blood to the heart. Pelvic veins are also stressed during the late stages of pregnancy because of the extra pressure that the uterus applies to the area. Because of this, pregnant women often develop varicose veins in their legs and pelvis.
Additionally, a hormone called progesterone, which dilates blood vessels, is produced in increased amounts during pregnancy. This also increases the risk of varicose vein development since blood flow and pressure increases in dilated blood vessels.
Obese individuals are also at a greater risk for varicose veins. The excess weight that obese individuals carry adds extra stress to their veins, oftentimes resulting in the formation of varicose veins. Also, since obese individuals are less likely to exercise—one of the major ways to avoid the development of varicose veins—they are at an even greater risk for the condition.
Not enough exercise
Healthy circulation is a key component to avoiding varicose veins, and exercise is one of the best ways to promote healthy circulation. It strengthens your heart and makes it easier for the muscle to pump blood throughout your body. Conversely, sitting still and not getting enough movement makes it harder for your blood to flow and adds stress to your veins.
Increasing age
Just like every other part of our bodies, our veins get weaker as we get older. That means that, as we age, we become more prone to the development of varicose veins. Obviously, this is one of the causes that we cannot avoid, but exercising and maintaining healthy circulation can go a long way in curbing the effects of aging on our veins.

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