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What causes varicose veins?

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Video Overview

It's very common for people to ask: "What causes varicose veins?" First of all, varicose veins are those dilated, blue, bulgy veins on the surface of the legs. Larger than 3 millimeters, that's how we define varicose veins. And what's happening is that blood is pooling in the veins and not flowing. The blood should go from the veins in the leg back up to the heart and lungs. But if the vein wall is dilated or if the one way valves that promote one way flow are not working well, then the blood will actually flow back down the vein, pool, and distend the vein; so that's what is happening with the vein. Now what are the causes? Well, the most significant cause would be genetic predisposition, so almost always there's somebody in your family who has have this problem as well. Other common issues would be pregnancy, and pregnancy could cause veins for a number of reasons. One is a hormonal effect on the veins, which causes those veins to dilate and block. Also there's a lot of blood volume with pregnancy and there's pressure from the enlarged uterus on some of the veins; so all of these things, but particularly the hormonal factor in pregnancy, causes veins. Now there are other factors such as prolonged standing, getting older, and injuries. So these would be the main causes.

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