Many people over the age of 60 have some form of varicose veins. The disease may start at a very early age. Varicose veins are more common in women, but many men have them, too. Quite a few factors can lead to chronic venous insufficiency. The biggest risk factor is family history, or an inherited weakness in vein walls.
Other risk factors include hormones (such as progesterone), pregnancy, smoking and obesity. Women who have had more than one pregnancy are at greater risk. Varicose veins can become worse during the late part of the menstrual cycle. They also may occur after a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis) in the leg.
Proper function of the venous system involves the muscles of the legs to assist in "pumping" the blood back up toward the heart. This places at much higher risk those with jobs that involve long hours standing or sitting, and individuals on bedrest who don't move their legs.
You should call a doctor if your legs feel heavy or tired, or if you have symptoms. If you develop areas of redness or tenderness, pain when walking, a sudden increase in swelling, sores, or if your symptoms begin to affect your lifestyle, you should call a health care professional. These are all signs of advancing venous insufficiency or complications from the condition.
Inflammation or redness may be due to an inflammation of the vein (thrombophlebitis). Swelling and tenderness may be a sign of a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis). However, it is rare for varicose veins to cause a serious blood clot.