Posts Tagged ‘abnormal blood vessels’

Can I Inherit Varicose Veins?

vein_ 7-29Varicose veins are large, abnormal blood vessels visible on the skin surface. They almost always affect the legs and often appear as bulging, twisted blue veins. Many theories exist for why varicosities occur in veins, but the consensus is that weak vein walls and valves are the main cause. Inside your larger veins are valves that allow blood to flow toward the heart, but, open to prevent backward flow of blood toward the feet (reflux).

If the valves don’t function properly, excess blood will remain in the veins, raising the pressure and causing them to swell and distend. Some veins will enlarge enough to weaken the walls and become varicose. Though rarely dangerous, varicose veins can often cause symptoms of aching, weakness or heaviness.

The Role of Genetics

Heredity is one of the most important risk factors for developing varicose veins and spider veins. Your risk of developing varicose veins is increased if a close family member has the condition, suggesting a relationship between genetics and the onset of varicose veins.

So just how do genetics affect your veins?

• Some people can inherit problems such as having too few valves or valves that do not function properly.

• Some people may be born with abnormalities of the vein wall. The resulting weakness may predispose the valves to separate and become leaky.

Some groups of people can be easily identified as inheriting varicose veins. Varicose veins during pregnancy are more likely to affect women who have a family history of varicose veins. Varicose veins that occur in younger patients (20s or even younger) are also believed to be inherited in most cases.

Prevention

If you know that close family members have had varicose veins and that you already have a strong genetic predisposition for varicose veins, you can take steps to prevent their onset.

• Lifestyle changes – Take measures to keep your legs strong and in good shape. Walking and exercising helps promote venous circulation by pumping the blood out of your legs and back up to your heart. Adopting a healthy diet can be helpful in keeping weight off and preventing varicose veins. Eating a low-salt diet helps reduce water retention and swelling.

• Compression stockings – Wearing medium, graduated-compression stockings daily, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet, will do wonders at preventing the development and/or progression of varicose veins.

• See your doctor and get treatment – Get an evaluation to see if you have venous insufficiency. Endovenous ablation is a minimally invasive office-based treatment that is very effective in relieving superficial venous insufficiency. You can check out my recent blog on The Latest in Vein Treatment Technology for more information.

For additional information regarding varicose veins, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

On March 21, 2018, Emory Healthcare will be hosting a Veins Q&A on their Facebook page. Be on the lookout to submit any questions you may have for our Vein Center specialists!

To learn more about the Emory Vein Center, please visit www.emoryhealthcare.org/veincenter. 

About Dr. Rheudasil

rheudasil-j-markJ. Mark Rheudasil, MD, graduated magna cum laude from Abilene Christian University in Texas and he earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1983. He completed a general surgery internship and residency program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and also completed a fellowship in vascular surgery at Emory University in 1989.

Dr. Rheudasil is a board-certified vascular surgeon. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery and the American Venous Forum. He is also a member the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery and is a past President of the Georgia Vascular Society and the Atlanta Vascular Society.

Dr. Rheudasil has published articles in several medical journals including The Journal of Vascular Surgery, American Surgeon and The Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia. He has lectured at the regional and national level on a variety of topics in vascular surgery.

What is that on my legs? Is it a Bruise or a Vein?

tired-legsVaricose veins often appear as blue or purple streaks on the legs, and larger veins may bulge or protrude above the surface of the skin. Spider veins are small red or blue veins that may look like a spider-web or branches on a tree. Larger varicose veins may look twisted and ropey, and may even be mistaken for a bruise. In general, symptoms become more likely as veins enlarge.

While most patients seek spider vein treatment for cosmetic reasons, varicose veins commonly may cause symptoms such as:

  • Aching
  • Heaviness
  • Itching
  • Cramping
  • Heat
  • Swelling

Though rarely dangerous, varicose veins can occasionally result in bleeding or superficial clotting, and may, in some cases, be a sign of more severe underlying vein problems.

When varicose veins begin to cause symptoms, or when the cosmetic appearance is causing distress, you should see your doctor. In addition to asking about your symptoms and examining your legs, an ultrasound will often be performed to evaluate the anatomy and function of your veins.

The Vascular Surgeons in the Emory Vein Center are specialists in the evaluation and treatment of blood vessel abnormalities, including varicose veins. Treatment is almost always performed in the office with little or no “down-time”, and often is covered by insurance. If you believe varicose veins may be your problem, please call for an appointment.

About Dr. Rheudasil

rheudasil-j-mark (1)J. Mark Rheudasil, MD, graduated magna cum laude from Abilene Christian University in Texas and he earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1983. He completed a general surgery internship and residency program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and also completed a fellowship in vascular surgery at Emory University in 1989.

Dr. Rheudasil is a board certified vascular surgeon. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery and the American Venous Forum. He is also a member the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery and is a past President of the Georgia Vascular Society and the Atlanta Vascular Society.