Written By: Emma Squillace
An interesting new study from Stanford University set out to further analyze varicose veins. In the scientists’ research they found an unexpected relationship between someone’s height and their likelihood of having varicose veins. This study looked at genes from over 400,000 individuals, looking for clues as to what genetic links exist with varicose vein formation. They found 30 genes that appear to be linked to varicose vein disorder and part of their findings was that being tall does correlate with having varicose veins. Not only that, but these genetic links also seem to be correlated with DVT or deep vein thrombosis – a very dangerous condition.
The researchers are unclear exactly why this link between height and varicose veins exists, but it adds to our body of knowledge about these visible veins. We know that varicose vein formation has a genetic component, as well as being linked with:
- Carrying excess weight
- Hormonal changes like birth control pills or menopause
- Being female
- Having a job where you stand still or sit still most of the day
- Being older
In addition to knowing the major risk factors for varicose veins, we also know some of their potential complications. These include:
- Bleeding – it is possible for varicose veins under your skin to burst, which can cause pooling of blood under your skin.
- Ulcers – the pressure that varicose veins and excess fluid put on your skin can lead to very painful ulcers. If ulcers occur, it is especially common to get these types of ulcers on your ankles.
- Blood clots – not only are varicose veins tied to blood clots but to an extremely dangerous condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT occurs when a blood clot breaks loose and travels to your lungs or another major organ. This can cut off blood supply, potentially leading to death within minutes.
With as much as we know about risk factors for varicose veins, as well as complications of these veins, there are a few things that are unknown. First, we do not know how to prevent varicose veins. We can certainly give you steps to take to lessen your risk including: maintain a healthy weight; avoid smoking; take frequent short walks; elevate your legs over your heart if you’re standing for a long time; avoid high heel shoes; and try to eat a lower sodium and higher fiber diet. However, even following every one of these recommendations is no guarantee that you will avoid varicose veins.
The other aspect that modern medicine has not been able to solve is how to ‘reverse’ a varicose vein once it has formed. Treating varicose veins is the only way to get rid of them, and West Medical offers the most innovative and minimally invasive of procedures. Once a vein has become varicose, it cannot return to its previous state. Treatment options like laser vein removal or sclerotherapy can get rid of the vein safely, returning your blood flow to normal.
While we have no way of predicting exactly who will get varicose veins, and no way of preventing them, we do have an expert understanding of these uncomfortable and unsightly veins. The team at West Medical can educate you on your risk factors for varicose veins, provide a thorough diagnosis including ultrasound, and show you the treatment options that we suggest. Studies like this recent Stanford research showing that varicose veins may be genetically linked to height are ones that we pay attention to in our commitment to staying at the top of our field as vein experts. Do you have any questions about varicose veins? Our expert vein team can be reached at (855) 690-0565.