More than 31 million Americans have some form of vein disease, making this a very prevalent public health problem. Your veins are responsible for pushing deoxygenated blood from your tissues back to the heart to be replenished with oxygen. When the veins become weakened, they can no longer efficiently transport blood. This leads to a phenomenon known as chronic venous insufficiency, or venous disease. Learning the factors that place you at risk for vein disease can help you take action to prevent this health condition.
1. Older Age
Veins naturally change as you grow older. Your vein walls will become thinner and weaker over time, which can cause blood to pool in the veins. Individuals over age 50 are most susceptible to venous disease.
2. Physical Inactivity
Physical inactivity is one of the biggest culprits in contributing to vein disease. Getting plenty of exercise throughout the day keeps your circulatory system working properly.
3. Being a Woman
Women are more likely to develop vein disease and men. Scientists believe this may be due to differing levels of certain hormones that place women at higher risk.
Overweight or obese individuals have a markedly higher risk for varicose veins and advanced vein disease. Carrying excess body weight causes your veins to work harder to deliver blood back to the heart. Over time, this can cause blockages in veins or may weaken vein walls. Losing weight is one of the best ways to lower your risk for chronic venous insufficiency.
5. Sitting or Standing for Extended Periods of Time
Do you sit at an office desk for most of the day? If so, you are placing yourself at higher risk for vein disease. Prolonged periods of sitting or standing can cause blood to pool in your legs, leading to vein problems. Get up and move around to keep your blood pumping efficiently.
Pregnancy puts a strain on your circulatory system. In particular, veins in the legs can become compressed by the weight gain associated with bearing a child. This compression may cause venous disease. Fortunately, most affected veins return to normal after childbirth, although you may remain at elevated risk for vein disease in the future.
7. Family History of Vein Disease
Some aspects of venous disease are hereditary. If you have a first-degree relative (e.g., parent, sibling, or child) with varicose veins or chronic venous insufficiency, you are also at greater risk.
8. Varicose Veins
Varicose veins occur when blood pools in the veins, causing them to bulge and become an unsightly purple or blue color. These varicose veins are a sign of venous insufficiency. If you notice yourself beginning to develop varicose veins, visit your vein doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.