Emergency Department

202 S. Park St.
Madison, WI 53715

1 hr 24 min Average

Risk Factors & Prevention

Risk Factors

  • Heredity: This is one of the most important risk factors. If your parents and grandparents had varicose veins, you will likely develop them.
  • Gender: Women are at higher risk because the female hormones affect the vein walls.
  • Pregnancy: Increased levels of female hormones and the increase in blood volume during pregnancy causes veins to weaken and dilate. Women who have had multiple pregnancies are at increased risk.
  • Age: The tissue in the vein walls lose elasticity as we age, weakening the veins. 
  • Prolonged Standing: Because of the increased gravity on the lower legs, people who have occupations that require prolonged standing have more of a risk of blood pooling in the legs.
  • Obesity: Excessive weight leads to an increase in abdominal pressure and affects the muscles of the legs, leading to worsened problems with venous disease.
  • Physical Trauma: Injury or surgery of the legs can cause damage to the underlying blood vessels and increase the risk for the development of varicose veins.


  • Exercise: Exercising regularly improves leg strength and circulation. Walking is one of the best exercises for vein health. Start out slowly and build up to 30 minutes per day.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity places increased pressure on the veins.
  • Wear Elastic Compression Stockings: Compression stockings gently squeeze veins so that blood flows upwards to the heart. The stockings will decrease swelling, fatigue, aching, and pain in the legs and may help prevent the progression of disease.
  • Elevate Legs: Raising the legs above heart level at the end of the day for 15 minutes will decrease swelling and keep blood from pooling in the legs.
  • Work Calf Muscles: The calf muscles help pump blood back to the heart. Avoid wearing high heels as they decrease the use of the calf muscles. When sitting or standing for long periods take walking breaks when possible, raise yourself up and down on your toes, or rock back and forth on your heels.