How Excess Weight Causes Vein Problems

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How Excess Weight Causes Vein Problems

When you carry extra pounds, conditions inside your body change, that weight can take a toll on your legs, not only for the extra work they do but also for the additional strain placed on your venous system, leading to disease.

Veins are the blood vessels that return spent blood to the heart and lungs to be recharged with oxygen. Since the pumping action of the heart has little effect on this return trip, veins have a series of valves that prevent the backward flow of blood. 

When these valves start to fail, vein disease can start. This can cause varicose veins and venous insufficiency. Symptoms include swelling, tired legs, skin ulcers, and more. Being overweight can increase your risk of developing these problems. 

Visit ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center when you see the first sign of vein issues, which usually occur in the legs. We can diagnose and treat your vein problems, slowing their advance while reducing potential later-stage health risks. 

How vein problems begin

The walls of your veins are thinner than those of the arteries, which need to withstand the pressure of blood pumped from the heart. By the time blood reaches the veins, the heart has little effect on blood movement, so veins face different conditions. 

In your legs, gravity slows the upward movement of blood when you’re awake and upright. Vein valves resist this reverse flow, and muscle contractions from walking and moving around provide most of the pumping action that returns blood to the heart. 

The pressure of blood on vein walls causes them to stretch. This force can build to the point where valves no longer close completely, allowing blood to pool, and putting additional strain on vein walls. 

This creates the first signs of vein problems. Varicose veins have a blue or purple color through the skin, a bulging and twisted appearance. In most cases, varicose veins are a cosmetic issue, but they may indicate other vein problems since they’re a form of venous insufficiency. 

Blood clots could form under these conditions, near the skin (superficial thrombophlebitis) or further below (deep-vein thrombophlebitis). Deep vein problems often have no symptoms, but could lead to pulmonary embolisms. 

How excess weight causes vein problems

Carrying extra pounds boosts the diameter of veins compared to people with normal body mass indices (BMI). This raises the risk of chronic venous insufficiency and thromboembolisms. The more you’re overweight, the greater the severity of the venous disease is likely to be. 

Fat tissue compresses vein walls, making the forward progress of blood more difficult and leading to fluid accumulation behind stores of fat. This is a problem in both the legs and abdomen. When your symptoms include edema (fluid-related swelling) in the ankles and lower legs, your vein problems may have already begun. 

Weight loss is a powerful tool to reduce the risks of vein problems, and there are medical treatments to help both the functional and cosmetic issues related to vein conditions. Diet modifications and increased activity can turn venous insufficiency around. 

Schedule a consultation with ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center to assess your risk and develop a management plan for improved vein health. You can reach our nearest office by phone or online booking tool. Book your appointment today.