Do you have varicose veins? If so, you should know that 50% of varicose vein patients have a family history of developing them, and you have a 90% chance of developing them if both of your parents have them.
This is an example of the strong link between genetics and vein health. Sorry to break the bad news, but genetics play a big part in your likelihood of having vein disease. However, having a family history doesn’t mean you’re facing a lost cause.
Numerous studies have been done on the genetic component of vein disease. Studies in twins have found a high probability of them both having vein disease. Researchers have found that there is a 60% to 90% chance that if one twin has it, the other will too.
Other genetic studies have found that varicose veins are linked to genetic disorders that are present from birth. Genetic disorders run in families, meaning families may show evidence of all of these at once: varicose veins, serious vein diseases, and congenital disorders of other kinds.
There has also been study on the genetic component in poor ulcer healing. Ulcers are often a part of vein disease, because weakened veins create the kind of restricted blood flow that causes wounds to form. Vein disease-related ulcers, including those that are slow to heal, have a genetic influence according to some studies.
What Does This Mean for Me?
That’s a great question - and one doctors hear a lot from patients. They want to know whether a disease with a genetic component means they’ll definitely get it. Here are some things all the genetic research means for you:
If one or both of your parents have a vein disease, it’s extremely important to tell your doctor immediately. This allows them to monitor you for early warning signs like varicose veins, bruises, ulcers, and infections. Both parents having varicose veins means there’s a 90% chance you’ll have them too, but it doesn’t mean you’ll develop more serious vein disorders.
If a grandparent or sibling is diagnosed with a vein disease, tell your doctor right away too. All close familial relationships are relevant.
If you’re overweight or obese, your probability of developing vein disease is higher. Because obesity also seems to have a genetic component, both weight and vein disease should be topics of discussion with your doctor.
If you have wounds that won’t heal, it could indicate a more serious problem. Do other family members seem to have this problem too? Ask your doctor about whether this could be an underlying condition of vein disease, because poor ulcer healing seems to run in families.
A family history is not a 100% predictor of vein disease. Genetics is a complex part of who we are, and other factors like lifestyle and health care history also affect vein disease probability.
You can help prevent getting vein disease by making healthy lifestyle choices, regardless of your genetic background. Stay within a healthy weight range, get plenty of exercise, avoid standing and sitting for long periods, avoid cigarettes and alcohol, eat a well-balanced diet, and see the doctor regularly to discuss your health status.
Curious about your family connection to vein disease? At Johnson Memorial Health, we have vein disease experts and a Wound Healing Center for full vein disease diagnosis and support. Reach out to us today to learn more.