Prevention and Causes

Preventing Vein Disease In Legs

  • Keep your legs elevated as much as possible, with your feet above your heart level to help the blood flow back to the heart.
  • Daily exercises such as walking, stair climbing, bicycling and swimming are all excellent exercises that also keep the blood in your calf muscle going. This can reduce pooling of your blood in the calf, and takes some pressure off the veins. At least 30 minutes of exercise per day is recommended.
  • Keep your legs in motion as much as possible and avoid periods of prolonged standing or sitting. When traveling, flex your ankles or take short walks to improve blood circulation.
  • Compression stockings can be used to aid blood flow by exerting counter pressure on the veins in your legs, ensuring the blood is flowing back to the heart properly. They are also useful in preventing deep blood clots from forming. Compression stockings are the most common conservative treatment. We recommend wearing them during long car rides or plane rides.
  • Find out what your ideal body weight is for your height and body type, and maintain that weight to reduce the extra stress on your legs.
  • Try to avoid situations where excessive heat is being applied to your legs, such as saunas, baths, and hot tubs. The heat may lead to increased vein distention, allowing for the blood to pool in your veins more easily.
  • Follow a low-salt, high-fiber diet to prevent any additional pressure on your veins that may result from water retention and constipation.

Causes of Vein Disease

Varicose veins and other vein problems are very common and can affect anyone. Although there is not one specific cause of varicose veins, there are various risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing these vascular conditions.


People with a family history of varicose and spider veins are significantly more prone to these conditions. About half of all people who have varicose veins have a family member who has them too.


Women are at greater risk of developing varicose veins due to the hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Birth control and other medications containing estrogen and progesterone also increase risk of developing varicose veins.


During pregnancy, there is an increase in the amount of blood in the body, causing veins to enlarge. The hormones released in a woman’s body during pregnancy can weaken vein walls, which can lead to valve dysfunction and blood pooling.


Varicose veins are common in patients between the ages of 18 and 35. As you get older, the valves in your veins might weaken, therefore increasing risk of developing varicose veins.

Sitting or standing for long periods of time

People who sit or stand for a prolonged period of time due to their daily activities are more susceptible to varicose veins. Lack of movement forces your veins to work harder to pump blood back to the heart.


Being overweight puts extra pressure on your veins, increasing your risk of developing varicose veins.


Any trauma to the leg, due to a recent surgery or an injury, could cause your valves to malfunction.

There are other factors of a person’s lifestyle that may contribute to the development of varicose and spider veins. These include:

  • Clothes that bind or otherwise impede proper circulation
  • Chronic constipation
  • High-heeled shoes
  • Heat
  • Anatomy

The leg contains two vein systems that provide circulation to the lower extremities. These are called the deep system and the superficial system.

The Deep Venous System

Veins in the deep system are in close proximity to the bone and are surrounded by the leg muscles.

The Superficial Venous System

The superficial veins are above the muscle, located in the fat tissue that lies beneath the skin. These are the veins that may sometimes be visible. The two systems meet at two junctions: the groin and behind the knee. There is also a smaller system of veins where the two systems meet. These are called perforators.

When blood travels downward through the legs, gravity ensures that the blood flows smoothly. The body doesn’t have this benefit on the way back up to the heart, so the leg has an alternative method of circulating blood. The combination of the deep and superficial systems, the leg muscles, and the various valves throughout the lower venous system form a pumping reflex secondary to the heart. The entire mechanism is often referred to as the second heart.

The Second Heart and Varicose & Spider Veins

The second heart is responsible for pushing deoxygenated blood back up to the heart and lungs, for recirculation throughout the body. The muscles in the lower leg and calf contract to pump the blood back up, while the valves open and close opposing the muscle contractions to ensure there is no backflow of blood back into the leg.

Failure of the Lower Circulatory System

When these valves become defective, the second heart system ceases to work properly. Blood backflows into the veins which causes the blood to pool. The pressure created from this overflow of blood in the veins causes the superficial veins to bulge. Depending on the severity of the problem, this leads to various vascular diseases, including varicose veins and spider veins.

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