People on the taller side are more likely to get varicose veins than their shorter peers, a new research has found.
According to a study led by scientists from Stanford University School of Medicine, height is a leading risk factor for the condition.
What Are Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are characterized by purple veins that often look like branches of trees. They are located under the surface of the skin, but they are often visible and painful or causing discomfort.
However, varicose veins are more than just unpleasant to look at. Because blood begins to pool instead of traveling back to the heart, it can lead to more serious health issues such as bleeding, sores, ulcers, and blood clots.
Varicose veins can also cause DVT (deep vein thrombosis) when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in the body. If the clot breaks loose, it can cause pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs).
More than 30 million people in the United States have varicose veins, but not much is known about the condition. There is no way to reverse the condition once a person has it.
In The Genes
The new study, published in Circulation, sheds light on the condition experienced by many around the world. Researchers studied the genes of more than 400,000 people in the United Kingdom. They used machine learning to sort through all the data. It is currently the largest genetic study ever done on varicose veins.
They found a link between height and varicose veins. The study also confirmed previously identified factors such as age, gender, weight, whether a person is a smoker, hormone therapy, being pregnant, and history of deep vein thrombosis associated with varicose veins.
Researchers do not exactly know why height is a risk factor, but when it came up, they performed additional tests to see if it was an actual cause.
"Our results strongly suggest height is a cause, not just a correlated factor, but an underlying mechanism leading to varicose veins," stated Erik Ingelsson, one of the senior authors of the study. "By conducting the largest genetic study ever performed for varicose vein disease, we now have a much better understanding of the biology that is altered in people at risk for the disease."
The researchers hope that the study will lead to the creation of new therapies that could prevent or reverse varicose veins.