Varicose veins — those bulging, twisted veins you see just beneath the surface of your skin — are a common condition affecting 20% of all adults at some point in their lives. While they’re often labeled as simply a cosmetic concern, varicose veins can sometimes be indicative of an underlying health issue.
But unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know if your varicose veins signal something more serious. Our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute is here to help. Kunal Patel, MD, specializes in varicose vein care, and in this blog post, we’re exploring the connection between varicose veins and potentially more serious health conditions.
Why varicose veins occur
Your veins have valves inside that help keep blood flowing through your body effectively. Varicose veins develop when those valves start to malfunction.
Malfunctioning valves can make blood collect and pool in specific areas, and the veins get enlarged and twisted. Varicose veins are most common in your feet and legs, often causing discomfort, pain, and aching sensations.
The potential complications of varicose veins
Most of the time, varicose veins themselves are harmless. But in some cases, they can indicate an increased risk of developing other circulatory problems.
A few possible risks associated with varicose veins are:
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when a blood clot forms in a deep vein of your leg. The blood clot can dislodge and travel to other parts of your body, making it a potentially serious condition. If the clot travels to your lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism.
Having varicose veins puts you at increased risk of developing a DVT, because weak vein valves slow down the blood flow. If you have varicose veins and experience sudden leg pain, swelling, or redness, seek immediate medical attention to rule out a DVT.
Varicose veins can also be a signal of venous insufficiency, a condition characterized by impaired blood flow from your legs back to your heart. Along with varicose veins, you might experience symptoms such as leg heaviness, fatigue, and swelling.
If you have venous insufficiency, seeking treatment is essential to determine the extent of your condition. If it’s left untreated, venous insufficiency can lead to skin ulcers and chronic inflammation.
Overall cardiovascular health
Finally, having varicose veins may mean you have an increased risk of cardiovascular health issues, like hypertension and heart disease. The exact connections aren’t fully understood, but underlying factors that cause varicose veins may also contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.
That means if you have varicose veins, we may recommend taking extra steps to manage your cardiovascular health. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and lifestyle modifications all help improve heart health.
Varicose veins are often viewed as a cosmetic nuisance — but it’s important to take them seriously. To learn more about your condition and get a treatment plan that fits your needs, schedule a consultation with Dr. Patel and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute.
Call one of our offices in Elizabeth, Lakewood, Paramus, or Secaucus, New Jersey, or send us a message online now.