Every week we do an Open Health Day and this week I thought about touching on the subject of varicose veins. Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins – usually blue or dark purple – that usually occur on the legs. They may also be lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance.

 Other symptoms include:

  • aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs
  • swollen feet and ankles
  • muscle cramp in your legs
  • dry skin and colour changes in the lower leg

 Varicose veins develop when the small valves inside the veins stop working properly. In a healthy vein, blood flows smoothly to the heart. The blood is prevented from flowing backwards by a series of tiny valves that open and close to let blood through. If the valves weaken or are damaged, the blood can flow backwards and collect in the vein, eventually causing it to be swollen and enlarged (varicose).

 Certain things can increase your chances of developing varicose veins, such as pregnancy, being overweight and old age.

 Today, I was joined by Dr Anant Sachdev, a GP at Ringmead Medical Practise and Executive Director at Specialist Health Services. He is the Clinical Lead for the Clinical Commissioning Group and his special interests include cancer, palliative care, diabetes and dermatology. He said that it was important for people who suffered with this condition to speak to their GP if they were experiencing any pain or irritation due to this condition. He also spoke about how common it was amongst people and women were more likely to develop it than men. He also said that they commonly develop in people’s legs and feet because standing and walking could add more pressure to the legs.

 Dr Sachdev said that there were treatments available for varicose veins and one would have to speak to one’s GP indepth and perhaps get a referral if they felt there was a serious problem. He said the best way to ease the symptoms of varicose veins is to keep your legs elevated when lying down to boost circulation, also it was important not to spend too much time sitting down or standing (another excuse to do some exercise!) As these small things can all help us not just when it comes to varicose veins but also our health in general.