A Family Disease

By David A. Martin, RN, President/CEO, VeinInnovations

BSA - Venous InsufficiencyMother’s Day inspires a look at the connections between heredity, pregnancy and the pain, heaviness, swelling and restlessness associated with venous insufficiency. While most people think spider and varicose veins are a cosmetic issue, discolored or bulging veins could actually be symptoms of a disease that affects about a third of women and a quarter of men under 40, and almost half of all people over the age of 50.

Venous disease occurs when delicate, one-way valves in leg veins fail. Blood that should be pumped up to the heart and lung for re-oxygenation flows backward, pools and creates pressure, leading to varicose and spider veins. There is a definite genetic component to venous disease, and it can impact the ability or desire to exercise and rest well.

“If your mother or grandmother had varicose or spider veins, you are much more likely to have the disease,” says Dr. Lisa Perez, a venous health expert at VeinInnovations. “We have many mother-daughter patients, and fathers and sons, referring each other for treatment once they see that today’s procedures are fast, effective and require little or no downtime,” she explains.

Becoming a mother is one of the life changes most likely to trigger symptoms of venous insufficiency. “Hormonal changes and increased blood volume can exacerbate varicose veins. If a first pregnancy causes problems and subsequent pregnancies are a year or two away, we recommend treatment between pregnancies, as symptoms are likely to be worse in a second or third pregnancy,” Dr. Perez says.

Whether your vein trouble is hereditary or pregnancy related, it’s important to seek treatment. “Postponing treatment can cause quality of life problems such as poor sleep, a loss of interest in exercise and, ultimately, skin ulcerations that are extremely difficult to treat and heal,” Dr. Perez says. She urges anyone concerned about their legs to schedule an ultrasound screening.

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