Are Varicose Veins Hereditary?

If someone in your family has varicose veins, are you destined to get them as well? Maybe, but it depends. There is at least one definite sign that varicose veins may be hereditary: If you have one parent with varicose veins, your risk of developing them goes up by 40 percent. If both your parents have them your risk goes up to 90 percent.

Varicose veins are a common medical problem that affects up to 35 percent of people in the United States. These bulging, ropy, blue veins can be easily seen and felt under the skin and most commonly occur in the legs.

Why do varicose veins occur?

Veins are the blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart. Each vein has a series of internal valves that open and close to encourage blood to flow in one direction. When these valves fail, blood can pool and stretch the vein, resulting in painful varicose veins.

Do varicose veins run in the family?

Just like many gene disorders, varicose veins are in fact hereditary. Having too few valves or valves that do not function properly is a common problem that can be inherited. These weaknesses may predispose valves to separate and allow a backflow or reflux of blood. In some cases, you may be born with abnormalities of the vein wall as well.

Your risk of developing varicose veins increases if a close family member has the condition. So far, scientists have identified 30 genes that contribute to an increased risk of varicose veins, with the strongest association being a gene that regulates blood pressure.

However, varicose veins aren’t solely a hereditary disease. Environmental factors like age, gender, height, obesity, and occupations requiring prolonged standing can also cause them.

Can varicose veins be prevented?

While varicose veins cannot be entirely prevented, there are things you can do to lower your risk (especially if you’re tall or have close family members with the condition), including:

  • Exercise
    Frequent exercise, like walking, encourages proper circulation and keeps blood from flowing back toward your feet and pooling inside your veins.
  • Eat well
    Eating well and limiting your salt intake can help reduce swelling, water retention and weight gain, which further reduces stress on any at-risk veins.
  • Elevate your legs
    Elevate your legs over your heart after a long day to reduce the pull of gravity on the blood in your legs and encourage blood flow back to your heart.
  • Talk to a vein care specialist
    If you or your family is predisposed to varicose veins or another vein problem, it’s important to get screened for venous disease and treated, if necessary.

Varicose veins can be more than just unsightly—they can cause pain, swelling, restless leg syndrome and tired, achy legs, which makes it difficult to participate in normal daily activities. If you’re experiencing any of these vein problems, it’s important to get screened for vein disease and treatment, if needed. Carolina Vein Specialists offer minimally invasive treatment options that can help you get back to doing the things you love immediately. For more information or to schedule an initial consultation, call 336-536-6628.