Veins and Venous Disease
What are veins and why are they important?
There are two main types of blood vessels in the body and these are arteries and veins. Your arteries have thick walls and move blood away from your heart, while your veins have thinner walls and return the same blood to your heart, minus much of the oxygen and nutrients. To do their job, arteries are tough enough to cope with the pressure-generated by the heart to push the blood along, but veins can only withstand low pressure and, where possible, rely on gravity to return blood to the heart. In the legs, your veins need to work against gravity and so pressure can build up in those closest to the skin’s surface. This can cause the valves within the veins, which are there to help prevent the blood flowing backwards, to fail. This, in turn, leads to venous reflux and varicose veins.
What do only some people get varicose veins?
- Many women, and men, have a hereditary weakness in their vein walls. This is why you’ll often notice that members of the same family will suffer from varicose veins
- Standing for long periods can be a factor, in both men and women, and is particularly an issue in those who stand every day to carry out their jobs
- Pregnancy is a major factor for problem veins in many women. This can be due to a number of factors such as increased circulation, elevated pressure in the pelvic region late in pregnancy that creates pressure in leg veins, plus the hormone oestrogen, which can cause blood vessels to form as well as weaken the walls of blood vessels
- Being overweight can cause varicose veins and also make them worse
- Trauma or injury to the veins and blood vessels can lead to varicose veins