Varicose Vein Symptoms and Causes

What are Varicose Veins?

imageVaricose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that often appear red or blue. They bulge beneath the surface of the skin resembling twisted rope.  Varicose veins can be found deep and out of sight or, quite commonly, on the thighs, on the backs of the calves, or on the legs below the knee. Due to their damaged condition, these veins hold blood at a higher pressure than most, forcing fluid into the surrounding tissue. This can cause legs to ache, swell, and feel fatigued.

Patients with varicose veins tend to have low blood pressure, experience lightheadedness, and a high heart rate. Their hearts tend to be overworked because of the stress of compensating for the lack of blood in the area. Our vein specialist at Manhattan Wellness Group, Dr. Ayman Farag, says that up to 90% of people may develop varicose veins is both parents have had them.


What Causes Varicose Veins?

legs athleticHealthy veins allow blood to move towards the heart through one-way valves. When a valve begins to function improperly, blood may begin to pool in the legs and cause health issues that could include leg pain, swollen ankles, blood clots, spider veins, varicose veins and ulcers.

Arteries are responsible for bringing new, oxygenated blood from the heart to the body. Veins return blood without oxygen back to the heart. When walking, your body accomplishes this by squeezing veins in the legs and pushing the non-oxygenated blood upward.  Inside the veins there are valves placed roughly an inch apart that keep blood flow running in the correct direction. Veins close when the leg muscles are relaxed. This prevents blood flowing backward, away from the heart and down the legs. When enough blood cannot be returned to the heart through the veins, the blood remains in the legs. Health problems are then bound to occur.

In the legs, three types of veins can be found: superficial veins that lie close to the skin’s surface, deep veins which are found in or beneath the muscles, and perforating veins, which connect superficial and deep veins and create a network.

Deep veins are responsible for returning blood to the vena cava, a major vein located in the abdomen, which in turn brings blood directly to the heart. A condition known as venous thrombosis occurs when blood clots and is unable to travel through deep veins. Similarly, if blood clots and obstructs proper flow within the superficial veins, this is referred to as venous insufficiency. Women tend to be affected more often than men; symptoms may include swelling and hyper-pigmentation. These conditions can be dangerous as these blood clots are at risk of breaking off the vein and traveling to the heart and/or lungs, which is called an embolism.