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Varicose Veins

How Can Varicose Veins Be Prevented?

Last modified: 
14/06/2012 - 13:08

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Most people can reduce the risk of developing varicose veins, or lessen the severity, by practicing the following behaviors suggested below. The same applies to preventing its reoccurrence following treatment.

How-To Information:

Preventing Varicose Veins

  • Exercise regularly. Take 30-minute or longer walks several times a week or participate in other exercises, such as bicycling or jogging, to strengthen leg muscles and improve blood circulation. Before beginning an exercise program, check with your doctor, especially if you have health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, or breathing difficulties.
  • Avoid standing for long periods. Sit down frequently and elevate your legs. While standing, shift your weight often from one leg to another. Bounce up and down on the tips of your toes several times an hour. Take a walk if you can. After a day that has required many hours of standing, elevate your legs for about an hour.
  • Keep your legs elevated when you sit or lie down. When your legs are off the ground, and raised to at least the level of your heart, the veins in your legs have an easier time moving blood to your heart. Put your feet up when sitting at home, and put a pillow under your feet when you are in bed.
  • Using wooden blocks, raise the foot of your bed about two inches off the floor to help the blood flow back to your heart while you sleep.
  • Avoid sitting for long periods. If you must sit most of the day at work, take several breaks from sitting throughout the day and take short walks to improve circulation.
  • Try not cross your legs when you sit. Crossing your legs compresses the veins and can affect blood flow in the leg.
  • If you are at high risk for varicose veins or already have them, wear compression stockings. Put the stockings on before you get out of bed every morning and wear them all day. Compression hose are available in most pharmacies.
  • Avoid tight clothing. Clothing that restricts blood flow increases your risk of developing varicose veins.
  • Don't wear high heels. High-heeled shoes make you use the muscles in your buttocks, rather than calf muscles, to walk. Walking in high heels does not promote blood flow in legs. Low-heeled or athletic shoes help strengthen calf muscles and improve circulation.
  • Keep your weight down. Too much body fat, particularly in midsection, can put pressure on your thighs and groin, weakening the walls and valves of the veins in your legs and groin.
  • Eat foods high in fiber. A high-fiber diet will help you avoid constipation, a condition that puts pressure on the veins in the anus and increases the risk of hemorrhoids.
  • Consider taking vitamin C supplements. There is evidence that vitamin C may help strengthen blood vessel walls.
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Varicose Veins

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.