If you are on the tall side, you might be at greater risk of varicose veins—and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Although men and women suffer varicose veins, women are more likely to develop the knotty, dark lines that we call “varicose veins.” While any vein can weaken and enlarge, varicose veins are more common on the legs and feet. Varicose veins, along with pencil-thin spider veins, are usually a cosmetic nuisance yet, for some people they could be a symptom of a circulatory problem.
Varicose veins by themselves can cause pain and discomfort—or none at all. Discoloration, stinging or burning, and itching are just some of the symptoms you might experience.
Inflammation, swelling, and reddened tenderness on the legs could be diagnosed as varicose veins, but if you experience these symptoms, it is important to seek a second opinion. Deep vein thrombosis or venous thrombosis is a blood clot that becomes lodged within the veins, oftentimes in the pelvis or legs.
A DVT is a potentially life-threatening condition because the clot can reduce or block blood flow. If the blood clot, or a part of the blood clot, breaks off and travels to the lungs, the condition can quickly cause death through a pulmonary embolism. Tennis champion Serena Williams developed life-threatening blood clots after giving birth. Ms. Williams was a known risk for blood clots, having suffered earlier with a pulmonary embolism.
What About Height, Varicose Veins, and DVT?
A recent research study from Stanford University found that height affects the likelihood of varicose veins. The study was the largest genetic study of varicose veins undertaken to date and the results tie varicose veins to height—and DVT.
Noting that more than 30 million people in the US suffer sometimes-painful varicose veins, study authors report the condition is often written off a cosmetic, when there may be reason to explore the possibility of DVT.
Stanford Scientists Use Genomes and Machines Searching for Patterns
In the study, scientists from Stanford used both genome association and machine-learning to look at the genetics of over 400,000 people as they sought potential patterns or risk factors for varicose veins. They found them. Researcher Dr. Nicolas Leeper states, “Genes that predict a person’s height may be at the root of this link between height and varicose veins and may provide clues for treating the condition.” Further, Dr. Leeper notes, “We confirmed that having had deep vein thrombosis in the past puts you at increased risk in the future. Recent research suggests that the converse appears to be true as well. Having varicose veins puts you at risk of these blood clots.”
In addition to the link to height, the study also found leg surgery, family history, sedentary lifestyle, hormone therapy, and smoking contribute to risk of blood clots and varicose veins.
A DVT can quickly become deadly. If you suspect something is amiss, regardless of your height, speak with a trusted physician quickly.
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