Risk of Varicose Veins.




Clinical Epidemiology

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Varicose Veins
Professional Data: Varicose Veins


Varicose veins are a condition with which almost everyone past their teenage years is familiar. Whether in the form of the tiny capillary spider veins or the large distended blue rivers running under the surface of the skin and down through the legs, they are considered to be unsightly. While they can appear anywhere on the body, most cases of varicose veins occur in the legs and are caused by a malfunction in the valves in the veins in the legs that normally keep the blood flowing back to the heart. When these valves malfunction, or leak, the veins in the legs begin holding more blood than usual and become distended. Even the small capillaries are affected creating spider veins.

Some varicose veins do not cause any problems, but others can cause the legs to ache especially when standing for long periods of time. Fortunately, there are many different treatments for varicose veins, which range from therapeutic to cosmetic.

A study published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology, explored potential lifestyle factors that may affect varicose veins. 1566 people were asked to fill out a questionnaire and then receive an extensive medical exam. These participants were 18 to 64 years of age and included 699 men and 867 women. This report showed that increasing height in both men and women was linked to a higher risk of varicose veins. In women, a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) was also associated with an increased risk. In addition, there was a slightly higher number of cases in men than women, which is different than previously thought.1


1. Lee AJ. Lifestyle factors and the risk of varicose veins. Clin Epidemiol. 2003;56(2);171-179.