For starters, we can reassure you… the story that varicose veins are dangerous has been grossly exaggerated. On the other hand, varicose veins are not completely harmless. After all, these are poorly functioning blood vessels that can lead to serious complaints in the long run. So indeed, in that regard, varicose veins can pose a threat to your health. Fortunately, varicose veins are treatable.
Before we delve deeper into the potential danger of varicose veins, let’s take a look at what varicose veins actually are. This concerns swollen veins in the legs and the backs of the knees. Sometimes they are on the surface, where they are clearly visible. The image is a bit like an aerial photo of a winding river and not really beautiful. Other varicose veins are deeper and invisible. They can, however, be a major nuisance. These deeper varicose veins can lead to sore and swollen legs, pain when walking and even a dull ache at rest.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are caused by malfunctioning valves in the veins. Blood builds up and puts pressure on the veins, causing them to stretch and swell. This concerns blood in the legs that is ‘on its way back’ to the lungs to get a new load of oxygen. This blood has to be pumped up by the heart. To prevent the blood from sinking back down between two heartbeats, there are valves in the vein that close automatically if the blood wants to go the wrong way. These valves can become weaker over time, causing blood to ‘hang on’ and the pressure on the artery wall to increase. Result: varicose veins.
How high is the risk of varicose veins?
The risk of developing varicose veins is partly genetic and increases with age. But there are also external causes. People who have to stand or sit all day for work are more at risk of varicose veins. Smokers often suffer more because their heart and blood vessels are in a worse condition. Overweight and tight clothing also increase the risk of varicose veins.
What is the danger of varicose veins?
As mentioned, varicose veins are not really dangerous, and they can be treated well. However, without treatment, varicose veins can be dangerous in the long term. Blood that gets stuck in the legs increases the risk of infections. Varicose veins on the surface can bleed and there is a risk with varicose veins that small wounds will no longer heal and become larger and larger (the so-called ‘open leg’). In addition, painful, deeper varicose veins pose a risk because the patient has pain when walking and therefore becomes increasingly inactive. This creates a vicious spiral with major consequences for general health.
Treating varicose veins prevents worse
As soon as your varicose veins become visible or cause pain, it is a good idea to have your legs examined to determine the nature and extent of your varicose vein problem. This is possible at U-Clinic with a very simple and completely painless ‘ duplex examination ‘. If treatment is indeed necessary, there are several avenues open. You can read all about it on our All varicose vein treatments page.