About a third of Americans have varicose veins, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery, making them prone to symptoms like cramping, chronic aches, swelling, and hard-to-treat skin ulcers. What’s more, varicose veins are also associated with long-term chronic circulation problems, which means avoiding them is especially important for your health.
Lots of factors can contribute to varicose veins. Some of those factors — like older age — can’t be changed. But other factors — called modifiable risk factors — can be changed. And in some cases, that could mean making changes to your job.
At Desert West Vein & Surgery Center, Atur Kasha, DO, helps patients in El Paso, Texas, understand their risk of vein problems, including varicose veins, providing state-of-the-art treatment as well as preventive care. Here’s what he wants you to know about the impact of your job on your vein health.
Most people think circulation is “driven” by the heart — each beat sends blood on a roundtrip through your body. Even though heart action is essential for circulation, it isn’t the only thing that’s moving your blood.
Your veins contain tiny valves that open and close in rapid succession, keeping blood moving in the right direction back to your heart. If these valves are damaged — by disease, wear-and-tear (aging), or extra pressure inside the veins — they don’t open and close the way they should, allowing blood to “pool” and weaken the vein walls.
Varicose veins are common, and so are their smaller counterparts, spider veins. But not everyone gets them, and some people are more prone to them than others. That's when risk factors come into play.
Nonmodifiable risk factors — factors you can’t change — include things like:
Since these factors can’t be altered, Dr. Kasha recommends focusing on modifiable risk factors to reduce your risk of developing diseased varicose veins. These factors include:
If you’re prone to tiny spider veins, using sun protection is also important.
Hormone therapy, some birth control methods, and even pregnancy can also increase your risk of developing varicose veins. Talk about those possible risks with Dr. Kasha, so you can find alternatives or, in the case of pregnancy, take steps to reduce stress on your veins (especially in your legs and feet).
Knowing the risk factors that contribute to vein dysfunction makes it a little easier to understand which occupations and job duties could increase the likelihood that you’ll develop vein problems.
For instance, jobs that require prolonged periods of standing or sitting or involve repetitive heavy lifting can put extra strain on your veins, weakening the tiny valves inside your veins and eventually leading to varicose veins.
Jobs associated with an increased risk of varicose veins include:
Basically, think of any job that involves lots of sitting, standing, or lifting, and it’s almost certainly a job that can increase your risk of vein damage.
Even if you can’t change your job (or you don’t want to), there are still things you can do to limit your risk of varicose veins. It begins by understanding your modifiable risk factors and doing all you can to avoid them or decrease their impact. That might mean:
Wearing compression socks or stockings may also help. Ask Dr. Kasha about prescription compression hose, which feature a range of compression based on your specific needs.
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing varicose veins is to have a vein evaluation to assess your current vein health and discuss potential risk factors. To schedule your visit or to learn about varicose vein treatment options at Desert West Vein & Surgery Center, book an appointment online or over the phone today.