They are intricate, tortuous under the skin and painful: varicose veins are not only unsightly in appearance, but can also cause serious problems. Why do varicose veins develop in the first place? And what helps? A vascular doctor has advice.
Many people find unsightly bluish veins under the skin. However, varicose veins often cause symptoms: the result can be swollen legs and open wounds, and the risk of developing phlebitis and thrombosis (a dangerous blockage of blood vessels) increases. Vascular doctor Bernd Krabi of the German Society of Vascular Medicine (Vascular Diseases) explains what is helpful.
Dr. Krabi, are varicose veins a common disease?
Yes, the Bonn Vein study confirmed that a few years ago. Accordingly, 60 percent of all people suffer from small varicose veins called spider veins. 30 percent have the largest. One in five women and one in six men suffer from venous insufficiency, which causes blood to return.
Is it true that such complaints are becoming more common?
yes. This is because the risk factors for lack of exercise and obesity, i.e. extreme weight gain, are increasing.
At what age does the problem appear?
For most people, it starts between the ages of 20 and 35. Spider veins, which are small, dilated veins in the upper layer of the skin, often appear first. It’s just a cosmetic issue. With age, the likelihood of developing varicose veins increases. Almost everyone over the age of 70 has at least minor varicose veins.
Is it possible that the young man suffers from varicose obvious?
Surely there are young people with whom the problem appears relatively, and sometimes it is so severe that they need treatment. They usually have a genetic predisposition.
Pregnancy hormones dilate blood vessels
Women are affected more often. why?
One of the reasons for this is that pregnancy is one of the risk factors for varicose veins. The pregnancy hormones progesterone and estrogen dilate blood vessels. If a woman also has weak connective tissue, then there is an increase in the formation of varicose veins. In addition, more blood must be transfused, which increases the risk. In any case, it’s an amazing feat for our veins to perform: they must move about 7,000 liters of blood each day, against the force of gravity. Varicose veins sometimes disappear after pregnancy, but they remain in many women.
What is the best way to prevent?
Movement is very important. If you have a job that requires you to sit a lot, get up from time to time and walk a few steps. Or you can move your ankles while sitting and swing on your toes. Whatever moves the calf muscle pump causes the venous system to relax. The heart pumps blood to the feet. The reverse flow works through other mechanisms, particularly because the calf muscles compress the veins when they are tense and then essentially squeeze the blood there. Small plaques in the veins, which act like valves, ensure blood flow toward the heart. In general, the motto is: “L” like walking or lying down is good, “S” like sitting or standing badly.
What is the most appropriate sport for prevention?
Basically everyone. Swimming is especially good. On the one hand, it tends to lie down, and on the other hand, the pressure of the water causes pressure, so that the return flow is further improved.
Compression stockings help
Is it important to drink a lot if you suffer from varicose veins?
You must drink enough. Varicose veins can be a risk factor for thrombosis. These are clots in the veins that form when blood is especially thick or flowing especially slowly. It flows slowly in varicose veins because the venous valves are not working properly and the blood stagnates. If you also drink less, the blood may be thicker and blood clots may occur.
Should you start wearing compression stockings early?
yes. This can prevent or at least slow the progression of varicose veins. Anyone who is in a dangerous situation, i.e. who has to endure a lot in order to work, is advised to wear compression stockings. Today’s models are no longer comparable to the old rubber socks that many still remember from their grandmother’s days. You can now see more and more competing athletes wearing compression stockings because they support circulation.
When should you see a doctor?
If you find yourself with varicose veins, you should be checked out by a vascular specialist – even if it’s just spider veins at first.
Chief Physician at Steinfurt
Bernd Krabi (40 years old) is the chief medical officer of the vascular department at Marienhospital Steinfurt. He has been a member of the advisory board of the German Society of Angiology since last year.
career path career path
After studying medicine at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Krabi first worked for four years as a resident of Steinfurt. In 2013, he moved to the Vascular Clinic in Darmstadt, where he recently worked as Senior Physician and Deputy Director.