Dangerous consequences: varicose veins are more than a beauty problem
According to health experts, around 20 percent of Europeans suffer from varicose veins. The blue discolored veins on the legs not only look ugly, they also pose a health risk. They can lead to phlebitis and life-threatening thrombosis.
Every fifth person suffers from varicose veins
Varicose veins are common. Around 20 percent of Europeans suffer from it. "The term varicose veins (varicose veins) comes from the Middle High German word" crooked veins ", which means crooked, tortuous veins," explains the German Society for Vascular Surgery and Vascular Medicine (DGG) on its website. However, a varicose vein is "not only a serpentine vein, but also an enlarged one, and its function is disturbed" and can have dangerous consequences.
Which people are at risk
A major cause of varicose veins is the inherited weakness of the connective tissue and the resulting reflux of blood in the superficial and deep leg veins.
This condition is particularly promoted by obesity, long standing, pregnancy and lack of exercise. Furthermore, the tendency to varicose veins increases with age.
But there is more that can damage the vessels: For example, high shoes and boots and pants that are too tight. They constrict legs and feet and disrupt blood circulation. This leads to swollen legs and also causes heat to build up in the veins.
“Vessels expand due to high temperatures and the venous valves, which ensure that blood flows in one direction only, fail to function. This means that the blood can no longer drain away and sinks in the legs, ”explained Prof. Dr. Stefan Hillejan, phlebologist and proctologist from the practice clinic for venous and rectal diseases in Hanover.
Another adversary of the veins is alcohol. He also widens the blood vessels so that blood collects in the leg. The same applies to sunbathing and sauna visits, because the vessels widen in the heat.
Sitting habitually with your legs crossed also affects blood flow, causing congestion in the area below.
"Varicose veins themselves cause no discomfort or even pain," writes the DGG.
However, the venous circulation disorder associated with the condition can lead to leg swelling, which can be manifested by a feeling of tension, the feeling of heavy legs or muscle or calf cramps.
Furthermore, varicose veins tend to inflammation (varicophlebitis), which can be accompanied by severe venous pain.
Another possible consequence: "Varicose veins increase the risk of thrombosis," reports the German Vein League. A blood clot (thrombus) forms on the vein wall. If this separates again from the vein wall, life-threatening pulmonary embolism can occur.
And last but not least, an open leg (ulcus cruris) can develop from years of vein weakness.
Varicose veins can reappear after removal
What helps to get rid of varicose veins? "Which form of therapy is used depends on the extent of the disease and the affected vascular sections," writes the DGG.
Compression therapy, sclerotherapy, surgery with classic surgery or an endovenous procedure can be considered. According to the experts, in many cases the various therapeutic methods must also be combined with one another.
It should be borne in mind that the tendency to varicose veins is innate. If varicose veins are removed, this does not protect against recurrence, which is why regular checks are necessary even after successful therapy.
Move a lot and put your legs up
Health experts often give tips on how to prevent spider veins and varicose veins, but there is no reliable scientific knowledge.
However, it is generally recommended to exercise a lot. For example, walking can help to reflux the blood. Endurance sports such as jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, aerobics or special vein exercises are also recommended.
High shoes, tight trousers and long sitting should be avoided. It is advised to walk barefoot and raise the legs frequently.
Obesity should be reduced, smoking and alcohol should be avoided. A healthy diet with lots of fiber, reduced sugar and fat content and a healthier fat composition (more vegetable instead of animal fat, polyunsaturated fatty acids) not only contribute to weight control but also to vascular health.
Extreme heat such as sunbathing outside or in the sauna should be avoided.
In principle, water applications can also have a beneficial effect on the legs. This includes, for example, the cold knee cast, a well-tried home remedy for varicose veins.
Alternating showers also improve blood circulation. (ad)