You got your blue eyes from your father, and your brown hair from your mother. You might even have inherited your knack for baking from your grandmother. What about those varicose veins? Did you happen to inherit those as well?
Before we can go into whether or not your mother, grandmother, or some distant relative might be to blame for those unsightly, bulging veins in your legs, first know that you are not alone. Varicose veins affect 30% of adults. If you’re over 50, about half of your peers of the same age are affected.
Veins are the blood vessels that carry blood back to your heart. When it comes to the veins in your legs, they are working against gravity so they have to be able to pump pretty well to accomplish their task, especially if you’re tall. This is accomplished through the use of valves that open and close to speed the blood upwards to your heart. When these valves stop working as well as they should, blood is allowed backward and can pool. This pooling stretches the vein walls, causing the bulging appearance of varicose veins.
Now, to answer the question: Are varicose veins hereditary? While it is certainly true that increased risk for varicose veins is certainly an inherited factor, you’re not necessarily doomed to inherit your mom or grandmother’s varicose veins. There are other risk factors that can contribute to raising the chances you may develop this condition.
In fact, if you help to prevent other risk factors, you can improve your chances of never even developing varicose veins to begin with.
Other risk factors include:
When your stomach grows as your pregnancy progresses, pressure is placed on the inferior vena cava, which can lead to varicose veins. Take heart, though, because varicose veins that appear as a side effect of pregnancy usually go away once you’ve given birth.
Being overweight or obese places strain on those veins. It can also cause the veins to be less efficient at getting blood back up to the heart, which can cause varicose veins. Losing weight may help reduce your risk and if you already have varicose veins, can help diminish them.
Standing or Sitting for Long Periods
People who have jobs that require standing on their feet or remaining seated for long periods are at increased risk of developing varicose veins. If you have a job that requires standing, make sure that you sit down and elevate your feet on breaks. If your job requires sitting for extended periods, be sure to get regular exercise and stand up to stretch every few hours.
As discussed earlier, 50% of adults over the age of 50 have varicose veins. As we age, so do our veins. As we get older, the valves become less efficient at doing their jobs, and the risk of developing varicose veins increases.
While having a close relative that developed varicose veins is a risk factor, you’re not necessarily doomed to inherit grandma’s varicose veins. Take care to reduce your other risk factors and you might just inherit her pie-baking skills instead.