Varicose veins aren't just a vanity sore spot. They can also be painful and lead to ulcers and blood clots. The enlarged, bulging purple or blue veins that often appear on the legs and feet often come about due to a handful of reasons, including having added pressure on your veins from being overweight, your gender and family history, a lack of blood flow from sitting for long periods of time, your veins weakening as you age, or a decrease in blood flow to your legs while you're pregnant, says the Mayo Clinic. And surprisingly, a recent study published in the journal Circulation that analyzed the data of more than 500,000 individuals ages 40 to 69 from the UK Biobank found simply being tall could play a role, too.
While scientists know why being overweight or pregnant can lead to varicose veins, the whole height thing kind of threw them for a loop: "We not only found an association between height and varicose veins, but the genetic studies we did showed a causal link. That suggests that the genes and pathways that drive human height are also likely to be causing varicose veins," cardiologist and study author Nicholas Leeper, MD, told CNN. "A handful of studies from 20 or 30 years ago hinted at a link. We don't understand it. Perhaps taller people are affected by gravity, or there could be something in the vessel wall itself. What is happening, we just don't know."
"A handful of studies from 20 or 30 years ago hinted at a link. We don't understand it. Perhaps taller people are affected by gravity, or there could be something in the vessel wall itself. What is happening, we just don't know." —Nicholas Leeper, MD
Luckily, there are some simple ways for tall ladies—and anyone else who's dealing with varicose veins—to alleviate the symptoms if they do pop up. Because your circulation plays such a big role in the condition, exercising regularly and making sure you're not immobile for hours on end is important, and eating a diet that's low in salt, ditching your high heels, and elevating your legs can help, too. Then wearing compression socks and trying sclerotherapy or laser therapy could actually treat the veins, as well as topically applying horse chestnut extract or using the herb gotu kola, which is known to promote healthy veins and fight off inflammation.
Focusing on your health and making sure you're taking care of your body does a lot of good in the battle against varicose veins, and just remember: getting them isn't the end of the world. Overall, there are way more pros to being tall than cons, even if that means dealing with some minor problems along the way.
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