Nearly 1 in 3 people suffers from some form of vein problems, making vein disease one of the most common health problems in the United States. Despite this, few people understand the factors that increase risk for vein disease. Learning more about these risk factors allows you to take action to prevent vein disease.

The Most Common Risk Factors for Vein Disease

Vein disease encompasses many conditions, including varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. Consider the following risk factors to determine your risk for vein problems:

  • Age. Our veins naturally become weaker as we age, leading to bulging and strain on vein walls. People older than 55 are particularly susceptible to vein problems.
  • Gender. Women tend to have more vein problems than men. This is related to hormonal differences that can affect vein health.
  • Multiple pregnancies. Pregnancy itself is a risk factor for vein problems. If you are a woman who has had numerous pregnancies, you may be at higher risk.
  • Family history. Having one or more first-degree relatives with vein disease increases your own risk of vein problems, as genetic factors play a role in the development of varicose veins and other venous conditions.
  • Obesity. Overweight or obese individuals have a much higher risk of vein disease, as extra body weight places additional strain on your veins.
  • Inactivity. Even among individuals who maintain a healthy weight, inactivity can increase your risk of vein problems.
  • Smoking. Smoking can affect the endothelium, or inner lining, of veins. The longer you have been a smoker, the greater your risk for vein conditions.

How to Lower Your Risk for Vein Disease

Although you cannot change things like your age, gender, or family history, other risk factors are modifiable. Particularly if you have several unchangeable risk factors, it is important to take steps to lower your risk of vein problems.

Perhaps the most helpful action is to get moving. Regular physical exercise improves the health of your whole circulatory system, including the strength of your vein walls. Additionally, exercise promotes a healthy body weight, which can further reduce your risk of vein disease. Aim to get 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day. This could include brisk walking, heavy gardening, dancing, step aerobics, jogging, cycling, or swimming. The goal is to keep your blood pumping to improve circulation throughout your body.

If you have a job that keeps you trapped at a desk or standing for long periods of time, you are particularly at risk for vein problems. Baristas, factory line workers, and cubicle dwellers should commit to taking frequent breaks throughout the day. Walking around for just 5 minutes per hour can improve circulation and lower your risk of venous problems.