Weight Gain and Vein Disease: How are the two related?

June 6, 2017

vein disease and weight gainVenous insufficiency and chronic venous disease are two conditions you have heard about in your consultation with Dr. Jimenez and likely during your visit with the cardiologist. Vein disease develops within the body based on external and internal stresses that affect the way in which one-way (upward) venous blood flow drives blood from the lower legs and organs to the heart. All of this venous blood moves against gravity and that action itself can be difficult if the veins are stressed, stretched and incapable of carrying excess blood. Years of patient care and clinical studies focused on vascular health make a distinct connection between weight gain and vein disease. But how are weight gain and venous disease related?

Veins, Valves and Their Function

At Vein Center of Florida, our goal is to share as much about vein care with you as possible, so you know what to expect and how to solve the problem. Vein disease, as mentioned above, starts with a variety of factors that contribute to the inability of veins in the lower sector of your body to push your blood from your legs to your heart. Venous valves keep the blood flowing in the proper direction. However, inefficient valve function results in excess blood waiting to circulate up from one part of the vein to the next, causing these veins expand. Expansion of the vein walls causes stretching, and that stretching continues until the vein is no longer able to resist and relax to its normal state, resulting in bulging visible veins. Bulging varicose veins are a sure fire way to tell this is happening to you.

Symptoms of Vein Disease:

  • Pain in the legs or heaviness
  • Tired/heavy legs
  • Discoloration in the ankles and calves (redness or dark tinge)
  • Tightness in the legs
  • Varicose vein formation
  • Fluid buildup or pedal edema
  • Pain relief upon elevation or position change
  • Tenderness
  • Restless legs
  • Ulcer formation
  • Itching or burning skin

While these symptoms of vein disease are common indicators, they’re not always present, and it’s a good idea to have a vein screening at some point in your mid-thirties at the earliest.

A Few Extra Pounds Can Affect Vein Health

Inactivity and extended periods of standing or sitting are a considerable issue no matter your size, however, adding excess weight and applying additional pounds of pressure on the body can cause serious exertion on the veins and their valves. If you’re already prone to vein insufficiency based on your family history, you want to make sure that you’re covering all of your bases and lowering your weight.

We think of the veins as pressurized tubes that work hard to move blood upward but the pressure in these veins can vary based on our position and how much weight pushes down on the lower half of your body at any given time from weight gain. Walking decreases the pressure on our veins because the calves help the leg veins pump; adding more weight, makes this mechanism ineffective. More pressure from above means more pressure is needed to move your blood. To lower the pressure in the legs and pelvic area, a reduced weight will improve the symptoms but long term awareness, activity and care are necessary.

A few types of vein conditions you may hear about in consultation with Dr. Jimenez include:

  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

Chronic venous insufficiency worldwide is a very common problem whether it’s the result of pregnancy, genetics, race, sex or immobility. Weight gain may initiate the process of vein pain and discomfort, often followed by restless legs and problems with movement if left unchecked. So if you’re feeling some of these things now, you may have chronic venous insufficiency which may symptomatically progress as you age.

  • Leaking Valves and Stressed Veins (Varicose Veins)

Overstretched and stressed veins, often purple and deep green, become prominent in the legs after significant weight gain and genetic factors. Varicose veins are stressed superficial veins prevalent in men and women over the age of 60, but they may occur in much younger individuals, especially with a family history. Women are at a greater risk of developing varicose veins than men, although they are very common in both sexes.

Activity, weight maintenance, and a nutritious diet can help to minimize the risk of developing significant venous disease, however, everyone should be educated about vein disease as early as possible. Call The Vein Center of Florida today at 800-910-VEIN for more information on vein disease and to schedule your vein screening.