What causes varicose veins?

The actual cause of varicose veins is inefficient, faulty vein valves. These valves don’t close properly, allowing blood to leak back with gravity and pool in the vein. This causes the veins to bulge and stretch and result in many unpleasant side effects such as aching and throbbing pain, heavy and tired legs, discoloration, restless leg and/or poor circulation.

Heredity is a primary factor in over 80% of varicose vein cases. Other contributing factors may include pregnancy, obesity, hormone therapy, standing or sitting for long periods of time and injury.

While a diet low in fiber and a sedentary lifestyle are thought to contribute to varicose veins, the condition is far more likely to develop if a person has an underlying predisposition to varicose veins due to heredity.  This is because diet and lack of exercise are thought to be minor factors that are not likely to cause varicose veins on their own.  Similarly, pregnancy, frequent straining to pass stool and heaving lifting are also thought to be minor causative factors for varicose veins.  A combination of minor factors combined with a major factor like heredity, can be responsible.

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