Varicose Veins

Learn what’s behind what many consider a cosmetic concern.

Martha Gulati, MD, FACC, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief
Learn more about Varicose Veins
We’ve all seen varicose veins, but should we be worried? The bulging, twisted bluish veins can form on the legs. Many people over age 60 have them. You may not like how they look, but there usually is no cause for concern. 

Veins are pipes that take the blood from different parts of our body back to the heart. At intervals in our veins, valves help move the blood in one direction: toward the heart. Sometimes, the valves in our leg veins may stop working. This condition is called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). As a result, some of the blood stays in our feet and legs, especially when we are standing or sitting for a long time. The increased pressure inside the veins causes these veins to dilate over time and allows blood to leak out into the surrounding tissue. 

These dilated veins underneath the skin are called varicose veins. Not everyone with chronic venous insufficiency will develop visible varicose veins. Many factors can cause varicose veins, such as family history, hormones, pregnancy, obesity and work that involves being on your feet. 

In some cases, varicose veins can cause discomfort and may be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—a blood clot in a vein deep in your leg. If you notice any unusual swelling in your leg, pain or changes in skin color, you should contact your health care professional. There are things you can do to get rid of varicose veins or keep them from getting worse. Use this condition center to learn more about CVI and varicose veins, create a list of questions to ask your health care professional and get practical tips.  

Varicose Veins News & Events

Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women Encouraged to Increase Seafood Consumption

Jun 24, 2014
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency recently updated guidelines regarding seafood consumption for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Heart Events Worsen Outcomes for Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease

Jun 23, 2014

Study highlights importance of heart disease prevention for patients with chronic kidney disease.

E-cigarettes Can Help Smokers Quit

Jun 23, 2014
E-cigarettes are as effective as the patch in helping smokers quit, finds study.

Are Diet Drinks on Par with Water for Losing Weight?

Jun 13, 2014
According to a new study, diet beverages could help people lose more weight than drinking water alone.

Phone-Based Support Helps Heart Patients with Depression

Jun 12, 2014
Researchers develop simple, cost-effective treatment for heart patients diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

Spirit of the Heart in South Bronx, NY

Jun 07, 2014
Spirit of the Heart events offer heart disease screening and events in underserved communities.

Web-Based Program Helps Patients Improve Heart Health

Jun 05, 2014
Not only do Web-based programs help patients lower risk for heart disease, they’re more affordable than traditional counseling, according to study.

Worldwide Obesity Rates 'Startling'

May 30, 2014
Major study finds obesity rates have increased dramatically in all corners of the world over last three decades.

NIH Engages Women in Medical Research

May 29, 2014
The National Institutes of Health has unveiled new policies that will engage women in all phases of medical research.

Reducing Salt Intake, Nationwide

May 22, 2014
Experts identify ways to reduce salt consumption and improve heart health in the United States.

'Exercise Snacking': The Latest Health Trend?

May 14, 2014
Adding small bursts of exercise before meals could bring big health benefits, finds study.

Growing Use of ICDs to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death

May 09, 2014
More patients may be eligible to receive implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, according to a scientific statement released by the American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association.

Finding Your Energy Balance

Apr 25, 2014
When it comes to our well-being, it's important to consider how much we put into our bodies and what we need in order to stay healthy.

Some Physical Activity is Better Than None

Apr 24, 2014
Adults engaging in any level of regular physical activity have lower risk of death compared to those who get no exercise, according to research.
CardioSmart News

Stumbling Block in Attempt to Reduce Risk of Complications from Surgery

Apr 15, 2014
Aspirin and blood-pressure lowering medication fail to improve outcomes in surgical patients at risk for heart disease.

Secondhand Smoke Causes Permanent Damage to Children's Arteries

Mar 13, 2014
Exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood ages arteries later in life, study finds.

Sudden Death in College Athletes: Cause for Concern?

Feb 27, 2014
Ten-year study finds risk of sudden cardiac death among college athletes is actually lower than in the general population.

Improving America's Health through Active Transportation

Feb 26, 2014
Partners unite to promote active transportation across the country with new platform called “Safe Routes to Everywhere.”

Devices in Public Places Restart Hearts

Feb 21, 2014
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can help minimally trained bystanders save persons experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

Safety Concerns About Prescription Weight Loss Pills

Feb 20, 2014
Experts are concerned about the safety of two weight loss pills recently approved for use in the United States.

CVS to Stop Selling Cigarettes; Will Others Follow?

Feb 19, 2014
As CVS vows to eliminate cigarette and tobacco sales over the next year, experts hope other pharmacies will follow their lead to help reduce smoking rates nationwide.

Improvements in Heart Patient Safety Among U.S. Hospitals

Feb 07, 2014
Study finds fewer complications among patients hospitalized for heart attack or heart failure between 2005 and 2011.

Anti-Smoking Efforts Saved 8 Million Lives—and Counting

Jan 15, 2014
On the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s first report on smoking and health, study finds tobacco control efforts have increased life expectancy and saved millions of American lives.

Multivitamins Fail to Improve Memory in Older Men

Jan 10, 2014
Study findings suggest that daily multivitamins fail to prevent cognitive decline in older adults.

Energy Drinks Increase the Heart's Contraction Rate

Dec 09, 2013
Study suggests that energy drinks may be unsafe for children and individuals with existing heart conditions, like an irregular heartbeat.

Welcome to CardioSmart

Learn how to make the most of trusted heart health information, incentive programs, health tracking tools and mobile resources available at CardioSmart.org.

CardioSmart Benefits

  • Get personalized newsletters and email alerts
  • Track key health indicators and physical activity
  • Bookmark news articles, fact sheets and questions to discuss with your doctor 
  • Take quizzes to improve health and earn prizes

Patient Resource