Varicose veins are often thought of as a strictly aesthetic problem; however, they’re a symptom of vein disease, which can lead to serious health issues if left untreated. Not only can treatment diminish unattractive, bulging veins, but it can improve blood circulation and alleviate debilitating symptoms. Something you may not know though is that your blood pressure and your varicose veins are related.
Do Varicose Veins Cause High Blood Pressure?
You might find yourself wondering if your veins can influence your blood pressure, and in some cases the answer is yes. Many people are unaware that varicose veins can lead to high blood pressure when left untreated.
What are Varicose Veins?
A varicose vein is a vessel that carries blood to the heart, and it protrudes through the skin. This gnarled, enlarged vein stands out among your other blood vessels. Although a varicose vein is possible in any vein, most of the time, the veins that become varicose are the ones in your legs and feet because of the pressure you put on them when you stand or walk. Since varicose veins cause pressure to build up in the veins of the legs, varicose veins can increase your blood pressure.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Veins are responsible for carrying blood from other places of your body to your heart in order for it to recirculate. Unfortunately, veins in the lower portion of your body must fight gravity to do so, which makes them work harder. As a result of the veins working hard, the valves in them become damaged or weaken, causing blood to back up. When it does so, the blood pools into your veins, which causes them to bulge and become more prominent as a result of the building pressure. In some cases, they twist in order to squeeze into their confined space.
As you age, your veins naturally lose their elasticity, causing them to stretch and weaken. As they become weaker, they’re more prone to becoming a varicose vein. Women tend to develop varicose veins more than men, especially during pregnancy and menopause. The hormone changes before menstruation increase a woman’s risk as well. Other risk factors include:
- Family history
- Living a sedentary life
- Having an occupation where you stand for long periods of time
Varicose Veins and Venous Hypertension
A connection between varicose veins and high blood pressure does exist for some people, but researchers aren’t quite sure why at this point.
The entire cardiovascular system must function together to pump blood throughout your body. When one portion of the cardiovascular system has to work harder than it should, it causes the entire system to compensate for the inefficiency. For instance, one study indicates a relationship between arterial disease and varicose veins and their connection with high blood pressure.
Sometimes, a form of hypertension (high blood pressure) occurs in the veins, known as venous hypertension. The continuous high blood pressure in the veins stresses and weakens them, allowing for varicose veins to form. Keep in mind, the repetitive stress from venous hypertension damages the veins permanently and can possibly lead to more serious problems.
When veins are unable to send blood back to your heart efficiently, it’s known as venous insufficiency. Varicose veins and weakness of the veins in the legs can cause pressure to build up in the legs, which can then cause venous hypertension as a result. Venous hypertension can sometimes lead to changes in skin color, leg ulcers, or swelling in the lower portion of the legs or ankles.
Varicose Veins and Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)
Varicose veins don’t just cause high blood pressure, they can even cause a form of low blood pressure called orthostatic hypotension. This form of low blood pressure occurs when your blood vessels fail to constrict, which causes a sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up from lying down. Orthostatic hypotension can be caused by multiple conditions, including varicose veins, so if you chronically experience sudden dizziness when standing and you have varicose veins, you should reach out to a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of your hypotension.
If you experience high, or even low, blood pressure as a result of your varicose veins, you may want to consult with a vein specialist to evaluate your condition and determine the best course of treatment.
Risk Factors of Varicose Veins and High Blood Pressure
Varicose veins and high blood pressure may occur simultaneously in people because they both share some of the same risk factors. For example, as you age, you’re more at risk for both hypertension and varicose veins. Men tend to develop high blood pressure around the age of 45 while women tend to develop it after the age of 65. Additionally, the aging process places wear and tear on the valves in the veins, making varicose veins more likely as you age.
Being overweight or obese puts you at an increased risk for both varicose veins and high blood pressure. The amount you weigh affects the amount of blood you have, and when you have more blood, it takes more pressure to circulate it throughout your cardiovascular system. If you’re overweight, you’re placing extra weight on your veins in your legs, which adds to your risk of developing varicose veins.
Living a sedentary lifestyle puts you at a greater risk of numerous health conditions including both hypertension and varicose veins. When you sit for long periods of time, your blood doesn’t flow as well, so you increase your risk of developing varicose veins. People who are less physically active tend to have higher heart rates, which means your heart must work harder. You’re also at a greater risk of obesity when you lead an inactive lifestyle, further increasing your risk of hypertension.
The likelihood of a woman developing varicose veins is higher than that of a man’s due to hormone changes like pregnancy, birth control pills, and menopause. Although men are at a greater risk of developing hypertension, the same hormonal fluctuations that increase a woman’s risk of developing varicose veins are the same ones that increase a woman’s chance of hypertension.
Do Varicose Veins Cause Other Health Risks?
Varicose veins are sometimes an indication of a more serious problem such as supraventricular tachycardia, a leg ulcer, or lipodermatosclerosis. Supraventricular tachycardia is a rapid heart rhythm disorder that starts in the upper region of the heart. Due to abnormal electrical impulses in the heart, the rate it beats increases, leading to the heart to working hard because it doesn’t fill up before it contracts. The veins and arteries also work harder as a result, increasing a person’s risk of developing varicose veins.
Leg ulcers occur in your legs as a result of high pressure in the veins when you stand. The pressure in your veins damages the skin, which in return, causes an ulcer to form. The connection between lipodermatosclerosis and varicose veins isn’t known as of yet, but this condition causes swelling in the legs that appear to contribute to the onset of varicose veins.
Treatment for High Blood Pressure Caused by Varicose Veins
Treatment for varicose veins can have an impact on your blood pressure if you have venous insufficiency, but in most cases, varicose veins and high blood pressure require separate treatments. At USA Vein Clinics, we only offer treatments for vein disease that are non-surgical, minimally invasive, and can be done in an outpatient setting. Depending on the severity of your condition, treatment can take as little as 30 minutes. After your procedure, you should be able to return to normal activities within one week.
Treat Your Varicose Veins
Whether you have varicose veins, spider veins, or venous ulcers, our clinics treat a variety of vein disease conditions. If you believe you are suffering from high blood pressure as a result of vein disease, contact us at 888.768.3467 to learn more about which treatment would work best for you, or you can click the button below to schedule your appointment online.