What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are characterized by enlarged, twisted, dilated, and bulged veins. They appear swollen, raised, bluish-black in color.
It can occur in any group of veins close to the body’s surface but is most commonly found in the legs.
Approximately 23% of US adults have varicose veins.
They occur because of improperly functioning, blocked valves that either cause accumulation of blood or blood flow in the wrong direction.
Signs and Symptoms of Varicose Veins
- Twisted, swollen, and bulgy veins
- Leg pain
- Lipodermatosclerosis - Swelling of the layer of fat under the skin
- Heavy feelings in your legs
- Itching around the affected veins
- Ulcer formation in severe cases
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Veins are responsible for carrying blood back to the heart. The veins present in the legs need to carry the blood against gravity to transport it to the heart. Valves prevent the back-flow of the blood, thereby supporting its upward flow. When these valves don’t function well, the blood flows backward and starts to build up. This leads to the formation of varicose veins.
Are Varicose Veins Genetic?
Varicose veins tend to run in families. Heredity is a major risk factor for varicose veins.
PIEZO1 Gene and Varicose Veins Risk
PIEZO1 gene is located on chromosome 16. The PIEZO1 gene contains instructions for the production of a pressure-activated channel. This gene is also associated with the structure of blood vessels in the body. Certain types of this gene cause changes in the structure of the veins, which could increase the risk of varicose veins.
rs2911463 in PIEZO1 Gene and Varicose Veins Risk
rs2911463 is an SNP in the PIEZO1 gene. According to the results of a large-scale genetic study on varicose veins, the presence of A allele increases the risk of varicose veins.
Other genes like PPP3R1, SLC12A2, EBF1, HFE, etc., also influence the risk of developing varicose veins.
Non-genetic Risk Factors For Varicose Veins
The wear and tear in the valves increase as you age. As a result, the valves may become dysfunctional and let the blood flow backward. So instead of flowing up to your heart, it goes back to the veins and gets accumulated.
An increase in weight results in additional pressure on the veins, forcing the valves in them to open up. This can contribute to the development of varicose veins.
During pregnancy, the stress on your veins increases because of the extra blood flow to support the developing fetus. Hormonal changes can cause the walls of your veins to relax. Both of these can contribute to varicose veins.
Women are at a higher risk for varicose veins compared to men. This can be attributed to the hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstrual cycle, and hormone treatments.
Certain jobs call for long durations of standing or sitting. This causes blood pooling in veins, which can damage the valves.
Weight lifting using heavier weights can cause strain on the vascular system. This may put bodybuilders at a higher risk for varicose veins.
Recommendations for Prevention and Management of Varicose Veins
There are a few ways you can take care of the pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins:
Exercise: Staying active can help maintain your weight and improve the blood circulation in your legs. Walking, cycling, lunges, yoga, and rocking feet are a few simple yet effective exercises that can help.
Compression stockings: These are generally worn on the legs to support the veins and muscles and allow proper blood circulation.
Other tips and tricks
- Elevate your legs while sitting or sleeping above your heart level
- Avoid crossing your legs while sitting
- Avoid staying in one position for too long
- Wear breathable, loose, and light clothes, especially near the waist, thigh, and groins
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Refrain from wearing heels and stilettos
- Take a cold or lukewarm shower
Natural remedies There are a few natural supplements that you can include in your diet to relieve the symptoms and manage pain.
- Grape seed and pine bark
- Flavonoid-rich foods like
- Vegetables: Onion, spinach, bell peppers, and broccoli
- Fruits: Citrus, grapes, cherries, apples, and blueberries
- Varicose are enlarged, twisted, bulgy veins that appear bluish-black in color. It occurs when the valves that regulate the blood flow in the veins malfunction. As a result, the blood gets collected and pooled in the veins.
- It is characterized by leg pain and heaviness in the legs. More severe cases result in lipodermatosclerosis and ulcer formation.
- PIEZO1 is a gene that influences the vascular structure (structure of blood vessels) in the body. rs2911463 is an SNP in the PIEZO1 gene. The A allele of this SNP is associated with an increased risk of varicose veins.
- Other factors that could contribute to varicose veins include older age, weight gain, pregnancy, gender (women), and jobs that involve prolonged hours of standing/sitting.
- Maintaining a healthy weight with the help of exercises can help prevent varicose veins. Compression stockings are often recommended for people with varicose veins.
- Flavonoid-rich foods like onion, spinach, grapes, cherries, and apples can help alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins.