Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged veins that usually appear in the legs and feet. While it’s common to see varicose veins among older adults and pregnant women, there are also people who may be at risk for having it due to their familial history. Studies suggest that heredity may play a role in up to 80 percent of varicose vein cases.

Cropped shot of a family sitting on a jetty

The Role of Genetics

Genetics play an important role in the development of varicose veins. The gene mutation that is the culprit of the inheritance of varicose veins is called FOX C2.

The FOX C2 mutation affects a protein in the DNA called actin. Actin serves as a skeleton for non-bone structures, like veins. Filamentous actin (or F actin) is important for the formation and strength of the veins. If there is an interruption in the F actin, this can lead to weak veins and appearance of varicose veins that may start as early as puberty.

Overcoming the Genetic Factor

While one can’t change his/her family history of varicose veins, there are things that can be done to prevent or keep the condition from progressing further. A few of these include:

Maintain healthy weight
Excess weight can put added pressure on the veins. This is why it is important for people who are at a high risk of developing varicose veins to live a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating well and staying physically active. Being overweight or obese puts one at greater risk of having varicose veins.

Use break periods to move around
Too much sitting or standing contributes to varicose vein development as it forces the veins to work harder to pump blood to the heart. If one’s job entails too much sitting or standing, then it is suggested to use break periods to move around to keep the blood pumping through the legs.

Wear compression garments
If you’re in a career that requires you to be on your feet all day, proactively protect your legs by wearing support panty hose, knee highs or compression stockings.  Compression garments put helpful pressure on your veins and help force blood along its natural course.

If you have a family history of varicose veins and are worried that you may develop them too, it may be time to speak with a vein specialist to discuss what you can do for prevention and treatment. Premier Surgical Vein Clinics has a team of experts who are experienced and highly-trained in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular and vein diseases. These board-certified surgeons can help restore your healthy-looking legs and make you feel confident again.