Varicose Veins: A Symptom of Vein Disease

Approximately 1 in 5 adult Americans suffer from superficial venous insufficiency, the disease that causes varicose veins and other symptoms that can impact your quality of life. Many people are unaware that varicose veins are a true medical issue (not a trivial, cosmetic one).

Venous Disease & Varicose Veins

The venous system is the part of the circulatory system that returns deoxgenated blood through veins back to the heart and through the lungs to be recirculated with oxygen-rich blood. When a disease occurs in the veins, it is called  venous disease. Varicose veins, or enlarged and twisted rope-like veins that appear near the surface of the skin, are the result of venous disease. They are most commonly found in the legs and ankles because standing and sitting without movement increase pressure in the lower extremities and are a result of faulty valves higher up in the leg. 

In normally functioning veins, tiny one-way valves open as blood flows toward the heart and close to prevent blood from flowing backward. When these valves malfunction, blood pools in the veins. Over time, the increased pressure can cause additional  valves to fail, resulting in a buildup of pressure that weakens their walls and cause them to bulge. This venous reflux, or venous insufficiency, leads to the development of varicose veins and spider veins.

You're Not Alone 

Varicose veins affect an estimated 40 percent of women and 25 percent of men. Factors leading to varicose veins include heredity, gender, pregnancy, age and other factors. Some contributors may speed up the development of this disease and make the veins worse, including prolonged standing, obesity, hormone levels and physical trauma.