Q: In addition to losing weight, or as an alternative to surgery, is there anything I can do about varicose veins?
A: Veins are blood vessels with one-way valves that return blood from the body to the heart, often against gravity. If a person has insufficient valves or blockages in their veins, the blood backs up in the veins and makes them bulge. These enlarged veins are varicos-ities. Varicose vein manage-ment involves relieving the elevated venous pressure. Here are simple steps to relieve symptoms and help prevent them from worsening.
• Walk. Muscle contraction pumps blood against gravity.
• Elevate the legs to reduce venous pressure.
• Avoid wearing tight garments, which can keep blood from returning toward the heart.
• Wear graduated compression stockings. Stockings worn in the morning prevent the veins from swelling. Pain experienced while wearing the stockings may suggest improper fitting or coexisting peripheral arterial disease.
• Avoid straining, as it increases venous pressure.
-- Dr. Sachin V. Phade, University Surgical Associates; member, Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society
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