When most people think about “vein disease,” the two most common images that pop into their minds are of 1) varicose veins and 2) old people. They assume first that vein disease is synonymous with varicose veins, and second that it only strikes people who are in their 60s or older, and mainly women at that. All of these are misconceptions, and dangerous ones, so in this article we’re going to present a few facts to help parents understand that helping their kids prevent vein disease is a process that should start while they’re still in their teens.
Contrary to popular belief, age is not the primary risk factor for vein disease
Yes, vein disease affects mainly older people. For example, over half of women over 65 have varicose veins, as opposed to only 1 in 20 women under the age of 24, but varicose veins can appear in patients as young as 11 years old. So although aging is a risk factor for vein disease, it’s not the most important one.
The most important is heredity. But close behind these days is inactivity – not getting enough exercise, and especially sitting too much. If you want to assess your kids’ risk of developing vein disease, look into these two factors. For example, if they’re young and healthy now but you, your parents, and your grandparents had varicose veins or suffered from chronic leg swelling, there is a very high risk that your children are going to get these diseases, too. That risk literally doubles if, in addition to having a genetic predisposition for vein disease, they have picked up the bad habits of the new “couch potato” generation and spend most of their time sitting and staring at TVs, computers, or video game screens.
Vein disease is a cumulative process
According to some of the best vein doctors in Florida, diseases like chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) don’t happen overnight. They develop over many, many years. First one set of venous valves fails and becomes leaky, failing to close and allowing blood to flow back into the vein and collect there. This increases pressure and makes the next set of valves fail, then the next, and the syndrome cascades until some form of vein disease appears.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle makes this cumulative degeneration happen faster. So if your family has a history of vein disease and your teenagers spend most of their time sitting, they’re a vein disease accident waiting to happen. And it may not wait until they are in their 50s or 60s.
Another factor that can place teens at risk for another form of vein disease – thrombosis, or blood clots – is their involvement in sports, especially contact sports. Trauma during one’s teen years can cause injury to the vein walls in one’s legs or arms. There is increasing evidence of football players, gymnasts, and even cheerleaders developing varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis while still in their teens. Volleyball players and basketball players, because of all the jumping they have to do, put a lot of pressure on the saphenous veins in their legs, which can actually be increased if they wear tight knee pads.
So how do I protect my teens and help them to prevent vein disease?
Your first step should be to contact a trusted Florida vein specialist such as the doctors at South Palm Cardiovascular Associates and schedule venous health screenings – not just for you, but for your kids as well. These screenings take only about an hour, and they are valuable even if they don’t detect any existing vein problems. For prevention, it’s just as important to learn whether you and your kids are at high risk of developing vein disease, because then your Palm Beach vein treatment specialists can work with you to help you make behavioral changes and lifestyle choices that can significantly lower your risk.
So give some of the best vein doctors in Palm Beach a call at 561-515-0080 and become proactive about your vein health. Your kids will thank you for it if it helps them – and you – to live a long, happy life free from vein disease.