Our venous system is an extensive network of channels, varying from large to tiny, that carries oxygen-poor blood from the body’s tissues and organs back to the heart and lungs. The reoxygenated blood is than delivered to the needy organs by our arterial system.
Because we spend a lot of time in the upright position, fighting the forces of gravity, the veins in our legs are equipped with valves that allow blood to flow upward toward the heart. By closing shut, these valves prevent backflow.
But an estimated 10 to 30 percent of the population-aided and abetted by heredity, occupations that involve an inordinate amount of time standing or sitting, old age, pregnancy, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and smoking, have valves that malfunction and begin to permit backflow.
The increased pressure of gravity distends those veins just under the skin (known as superficial). This causes the characteristic appearance of superficial varicosities. These usually cause no discomfort and no problems other than cosmetic ones.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health June 2018 Marvin M. Lipman, M. D., Consumer Reports chief medical advisor since 1967, is a professor emeritus of clinical medicine at New York Medical College. He is a practicing internist certified in endocrinology and metabolism.
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