As we age, the risk of contracting venous disease increases. Contributing factors include obesity, trauma to the vein, gender, physical activity, diet, and genetics. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to prevent venous disease so keep reading to find out more.
The older we get, the more important it is to maintain mobility. Whether you are in your sixties and running two miles a day or in your eighties and going on a daily walk, activity is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Beyond overall health, staying active helps prevent venous disease. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends keeping your legs in motion as much as possible. It is especially important for those that are sitting long durations. Make sure there is adequate blood flow to your legs by occasionally getting up to walk around. If this isn’t possible, flexing your ankles can mitigate the problems. On the other end of the spectrum, standing for too long can also lead to venous issues.
In regards to exercise, try to include at least 30 minutes of activity in your daily routine. For those of us that are younger, the recommended amount is closer to 90 minutes. For seniors, daily exercises such as walking and climbing the stairs can be sufficient. Exercise helps to circulate the blood, which in turn can relieve pressure on the veins and prevent issues. If you are already having venous pain in your legs, using compression stockings is a good option. The compression stockings exert pressure on your legs, which helps the blood flow out of your legs. Compression stockings are a great addition when traveling or sitting for long periods. For longer amounts of non-movement, compression stockings have the added benefit of preventing blood clots. Blood sitting around in your legs can lead to clots and result in very serious complications. Lastly, keep your feet elevated to help the blood flow out of your legs. This can mean putting them straight up if you have the strength or simply propping them up in a position above where your heart is.
Along with increased physical activity, making a concerted effort to lose weight can help. Even though it sounds simple, losing weight is always a challenge. Ask your doctor what your best weight is and try to reach that goal. Weighing less helps with blood flow, reduces inflammation, and is good for overall wellbeing. Weighing less also reduces the stress on your legs, especially when standing. Daily exercise and a healthy diet can help with your weight loss goals. It is also important to keep a low sodium diet to prevent water retention. The water retention will cause added pressure on your legs and result in pain and other complications.
Trauma is the last preventable cause of venous diseases of the leg. Trauma can stem from the clothes we wear, heat, shoes such as high heels, chronic constipation, and tight-fitting clothes that interfere with circulation. If you are at risk for varicose veins and/or venous disease make sure to wear loose-fitting clothes and properly fitting shoes. Additionally, back to our diet point, make sure your diet is low in sodium.
Over 50% of people with venous disease of the legs have family members with varicose veins. The varicose veins may or may not cause pain or lead to other issues depending upon the preventative measures taken. Women are at a much greater risk of developing these veins due to hormones. Obesity leads to higher levels of estrogen as well, so maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce some of these effects.
As mentioned, age is a major factor. As we get older, the risk of developing venous disease (as well as the risk for many other diseases) increases dramatically. The veins tend to weaken, which leads to varicose veins and blood pressure or vascular problems. Exercise, moving, and maintaining a healthy weight are the main preventative ways to keep pressure off the veins.