Have you noticed bluish veins near the surface of your skin or the skin of a loved one? Although many people have visible veins on their wrist, arms, neck, or head, the sudden appearance of new veins might certainly be surprising or startling.
Thankfully, most people who develop varicose veins experience no symptoms or side effects. In fact, the American Heart Association has found that about 23% of Americans have varicose veins. For many people, they are simply a part of getting older; if you don’t have them, there is a good chance that your parents or grandparents do.
Yet even though varicose veins are common, you may still wonder if they could be a problem for you — or a warning sign of something else. If so, then come see the team at Phoenix Heart. Our medical team was recently voted No. 1 in cardiology groups by Ranking Arizona magazine and we set the bar in cardiovascular care. Before your appointment, use this blog post to learn more about varicose veins and what they mean for your health.
What are varicose veins?
To start, you need to know a little bit about vein structure. Have you ever considered how your veins fight gravity and bring blood back to your heart when you’re standing?
The key to that feat is the one-way valves that keep blood flowing back toward your heart. The valves can open upward to let blood through, but then close to stop blood from flowing back. When the valves don’t work properly, blood can pool in your veins. This is when a varicose vein forms. The congestion in the vein causes the veins to bulge and twist, making the vein appear larger and warped.
For many people, the only symptom they experience is the physical appearance of the veins. However, some pain may be associated with varicose veins, including the following:
- An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
- Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping, and swelling in your lower legs
- Worsened pain after sitting or standing
- Itching around one or more veins
- Skin discoloration around the vein
Varicose veins almost always occur in the legs.
Age is the risk factor most commonly associated with varicose veins — the valves in veins become weaker as you age. Females are also more likely to develop varicose veins. Other risk factors include:
- Standing for long periods
- Family history of varicose veins
If you have a job that demands you stand for long periods of time, consider compression socks or adding a daily walk to your routine. Compression socks help with circulation and the motion of walking actually helps your blood pump through your body.
When varicose veins lead to something more
As previously noted, most varicose veins are completely benign. However, some conditions, including deep vein thrombosis and venous disease, can cause varicose veins. Varicose veins may also cause complications like ulcers, blood clots, or bleeding in rare cases.
If you are concerned about your varicose veins, the doctors at Phoenix Heart are here to help. Call or request an appointment at one of our five Phoenix area offices today.