Your Veins and Your Weight

Your Veins and Your WeightVaricose veins and affect anyone, but some factors put you at a higher risk for developing these unsightly, bulging veins. One such factor is your weight. Because our risk of vein problems increases as we get heavier, working to maintain a healthy weight can help you prevent and control varicose veins.

Weight and Varicose Veins: The Connection

Varicose veins occur when a valve in the vein stops working properly and allows blood to pool. This causes the wall of the vein to stretch, which makes it visible to the naked eye. Varicose veins can also cause your ankles to swell and lead to a feeling of heaviness or mild pain in your legs.

As we gain weight, our bodies exert more pressure on our legs and leg veins. Over time, this pressure can cause problems in the valves of our leg veins, causing new varicose veins to form and worsening existing vein problems.

The more weight we carry around, the higher the pressure and the higher the risk. However, if you are overweight, you may have an especially high risk of varicose veins if you are also subject to other risk factors like:

  • Sex. Women are at a higher risk for varicose veins than men. Because female hormones can relax the vein walls, changes in your hormones during premenstruation, pregnancy and menopause can influence the development of problem veins.
  • Prolonged standing or sitting. Staying in the same position for an extended period of time can inhibit your blood flow. If you have a job that requires you to sit or stand for long hours, this can further contribute to varicose veins.
  • Age. As we get older, some degradation of the valves in your leg veins is natural. Our risk of developing vein problems increases with age.

Preventing Weight Gain and Varicose Veins

Because excess weight and varicose veins can be so interrelated, you can take steps now to prevent both of them together. If you are overweight and suffer from varicose veins or hope to reduce your risk of developing them, try to:

  • Stay active. Anything that gets you on your feet and moving can help you prevent weight gain and improve blood flow through your legs. Even something as simple as going for a 30-minute walk every night after dinner can help you get more activity to control your weight and reduce the risk of vein problems. If you work in a stationary position, try to stretch your legs and walk around once every hour if possible, or go for a walk on your lunch break.
  • Eat right. A nutritious diet will help you maintain a healthy weight and a healthy circulatory system. Focus on eating lean proteins, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Do your best to replace saturated and trans fats with healthier varieties like mono and polyunsaturated fats.

Losing weight can help you reduce your risk of varicose veins, but if you need any more help with treatment and prevention of varicose veins, talk to a vein specialist.


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