Varicose Vein Risk Factors and Causes
The likelihood of developing varicose veins, spider veins or other symptoms of venous disorder is based on a variety risk factors or causes. Some risk factors are controllable like lifestyle and obesity. Other risk factors are not controllable such as genetics. If you have one or more of these varicose vein risk factors, you are at increased risk of developing spider veins or varicose veins.
- Genetics: Did your mother and grandmother have varicose veins? Do any of your siblings? Then, there is a fairly good chance that you may develop varicose veins as well. Not all cases of genetic predisposition develop varicose veins, but venous disorder does run in families.
- Age: As we get older, the elasticity in our vein walls decreases. This increases the possibility that valves will fail and varicose veins will develop.
- Gender: Females are much more likely to develop spider or varicose veins (although 25% of cases occur in males). Some research indicates increased levels of female hormones may cause relaxation of vein walls and may lead to valve failure.
- Pregnancy: The enlarged uterus during pregnancy can cause increased pressure on all veins. Combined with elevated hormone levels and heavier weight, pregnant women are at higher risk for varicose veins. This is typically for the first time while pregnant or shortly thereafter. Venous insufficiency usually gets worse with subsequent pregnancies and may improve somewhat after childbirth when the uterus, hormones, and weight return to normal.
- Lifestyle: People whose occupations require them to stand or sit for long periods of time are at higher risk. Professions like waitresses, hairdressers, and office workers, are statistically more likely to develop varicose veins.
- Obesity: Weight gain or carrying excessive body weight increases the risk for varicose veins and venous insufficiency. This may be because of increased pressure on the venous system in obese individuals. It may also be because of the disruption of the geometry of the valves in the tissues. Often, losing weight helps alleviate the symptoms of venous insufficiency in obese patients. Diet can have an effect as well.
- Injury: Trauma may injure veins and cause valves to fail, leading to symptoms of venous insufficiency. Examples of trauma includes a broken leg, knee, or hip surgery. Even a blunt injury that doesn’t involve broken bones such as an auto accident can increase risk. It is important to share any history of trauma with your physician so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be determined.