Study finds taller people have higher risk of having varicose veins
New research found a correlation between height and a tendency for varicose veins. (mabe123 / Istock.com)
Published Tuesday, September 25, 2018 1:15PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 25, 2018 8:38PM EDT
New U.S. research has found that the taller a person is, the higher their risk may be of developing varicose veins.
Led by Stanford University School of Medicine, the new study analyzed the genes of 493,519 individuals gathered from U.K. Biobank -- a large, long-term study which looks at conditions such as cardiovascular disease in U.K. residents and includes genomic data on about a half-million people.
The findings, published in the journal Circulation, confirmed that current known risk factors -- including being older, female, overweight or pregnant, or having a history of deep vein thrombosis -- are all associated with varicose veins.
In addition, the study also identified surgery on the legs, family history of varicose veins, lack of movement, smoking and hormone therapy as new risk factors, with the team surprised to also find a correlation between varicose veins and height, with those who are taller appearing to have a higher risk of the condition.
The researchers then conducted further tests to see if height was an actual cause for the disease.
"Our results strongly suggest height is a cause, not just a correlated factor, but an underlying mechanism leading to varicose veins," said Erik Ingelsson, co-lead author of the study.
"Genes that predict a person's height may be at the root of this link between height and varicose veins and may provide clues for treating the condition," added another of the study's lead authors, Nicholas Leeper, MD.
The research also identified 30 genes linked to varicose vein disorder and to a strong genetic correlation with deep vein thrombosis.
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that can be seen just under the surface of the skin, usually in the legs. While some believe the problem is a cosmetic one, the condition can cause moderate pain and has been linked to the more serious side effects of deep vein thrombosis, which occurs when a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body.
Treatment is mainly limited to surgical procedures, such as laser treatment or vein stripping.
"The condition is incredibly prevalent but shockingly little is known about the biology," said co-lead author Alyssa Flores. "We're hoping that with this new information, we can create new therapies, as our study highlights several genes that may represent new translational targets."
"By conducting the largest genetic study ever performed for varicose vein disease, we now have a much better understanding of the biology that is altered in people at risk for the disease."