Can Varicose Veins Be A Sign Of Stroke Risk?

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Varicose veins are often regarded as a cosmetic issue. However, some doctors suggest that there could be more to this unsightly appearance of visible veins on the surface of the skin. This skin condition occurs due to the changes in blood pressure in the vessels, so there are possible health risks and complications such as stroke that could happen when they’re left untreated. 

So how are varicose veins related to the increased risk of stroke? One possible complication of varicose veins is blood clots. When blood clots in the legs travel to the brain blood vessels, it can cause arterial complications and possibly lead to symptoms of stroke. While the chances of a stroke happening due to varicose veins are slim, it’s still recommended to get proper vein treatments to prevent a brain attack.

Learn More: Varicose Veins and Diabetes: How Are They Related?

Varicose Veins and Stroke Risk: Should You Be Worried? 

Varicose veins and stroke have one similarity: they’re both related to poor blood circulation due to weakened valves or damaged blood vessels. Stroke is a disease that occurs when the flow of blood and oxygen supply to the heart or brain is disrupted. 

On the other hand, a venous disease like varicose veins is primarily caused by the pooling of blood inside the veins as a result of faulty vessels. The broken blood vessels usually result in the formation of swollen veins that are commonly found on the legs, ankles, and feet. However, blood clots also have a possibility of developing due to increased blood pressure. 

The formation of blood clots can cause serious varicose vein complications, some of which can be related to stroke. Here are the common conditions that can lead to a stroke: 

 Deep Vein Thrombosis Pulmonary embolism Peripheral artery disease 
What causes them DVT can happen when a blood clot forms in the deeper veins. It usually happens in the lower legs and thighs. A pulmonary embolism is a condition when blood clots block the arteries in the lungs. PAD is a disease caused by the narrowing of the arteries in the lower body. This can cause the arteries to burst and lead to a potentially dangerous blood clot. 
Symptoms Deep venous thrombosis can occasionally cause swelling and leg pain. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness will typically require immediate medical careCommon symptoms include leg weakness and numbness, pain, and cramps 
How serious is the condition DVT cannot directly cause a stroke but it’s  possible when a blood clot breaks free in the deep veins and travels to the arteries in the brain Pulmonary embolism is often a serious medical condition and can increase the risk for a stroke or heart attack Immediate medical attention may be required once blood clots reach the brain blood vessels

Early Signs of Potential Blood Clots and Stroke 

A stroke attack can typically happen in 3 ways: 

  • Ischemic attack - this is the type of stroke that occurs when the brain isn’t receiving enough blood supply. An ischemic stroke can be a result of narrowed blood vessels or when a blood clot has blocked the pathway to the brain. 
  • Hemorrhagic stroke - this usually happens when a weak blood vessel bursts and causes internal bleeding that puts pressure on the brain cells. Some risk factors that can cause a hemorrhagic episode are high blood pressure, anticoagulant medications, or trauma. 
  • Transient ischemic attack - this is also referred to as a ‘mini stroke’ and it can occur due to a clot that temporarily decreases blood supply to the brain. They’re not chronic and an attack can usually last for 5 minutes or less. 

Since blood clots and stroke are both vascular diseases, their symptoms can sometimes overlap. Some of the common signs of clotting and stroke that may need careful monitoring are: 

  • Temporary paralysis or numbness that can occur on one side of the body, particularly the legs, arms, or face  
  • Excessive sweating all over the body 
  • Swelling, redness, and tenderness in the leg caused by blood clot
  • Sudden throbbing or cramping in the limbs
  • Shortness of breath, sharp chest pain 
  • Headache and lightheadedness 
  • Inability or trouble speaking and walking  

Other Possible Risk Factors For Stroke 

Severe varicose veins are just one of the possible risk factors for stroke. An individual’s lifestyle and medical history can also contribute to the possibility of having a brain attack. Some other factors that can also cause stroke are:

  • Being obese or overweight 
  • Poor diet habits 
  • Habitual or frequent smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol levels 
  • Diabetes 
  • Heart disease and cardiovascular conditions like atrial fibrillation 

What Causes Varicose Veins To Appear On The Skin

When it comes to venous disorders, there are 2 types that can similarly appear as vein discolorations on the skin. While varicose veins can be distinguished as enlarged or bulging veins, spider veins are small superficial veins that commonly show on the face and legs, which are almost always painless. 

They’re both mainly caused by broken blood vessels, but there are other factors that can increase your risk for spider and varicose veins like: 

  • Having chronic venous insufficiency - CVI is a condition where the vein valves are poorly functioning 
  • Prolonged sitting or standing for extended periods of time without rest 
  • Hormone changes - changes in hormone levels, especially during menopause and pregnancy for women, can result in facial and leg veins 
  • Age - the aging of blood vessels can slow down the flow of blood back to the heart 
  • Weight gain and obesity 
  • Genetics 

Learn More: What Is a Healthy Diet for Varicose Veins?

How To Decrease Your Risk For Vein Diseases and Stroke 

As with any health condition, varicose veins and stroke risk can be prevented by observing healthy lifestyle choices to promote good blood flow and vein health. Here are some guidelines for care to lower your risk for vascular disease: 

  • Avoid smoking and keep away from breathing secondhand smoke 
  • Limit your alcohol consumption since it can raise your blood pressure 
  • Change your sedentary lifestyle and start getting regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and constant flow of blood in the body
  • Watch what you eat and cut back on salty and processed foods 
  • Manage your blood sugar regularly and take necessary prescribed medications 
  • Wear compression stockings to relieve pressure on your legs and feet

Get Expert Treatments For Your Vein Health at Vein Center Doctor 

professional vein doctor examines the leg for varicose veins

Stroke risk can be a potential complication of blood clots that form when varicose veins are left untreated. At Vein Center Doctor, we provide minimally invasive treatment options to immediately address early signs of varicose veins to restore good vein health. 

We offer non-surgical vein procedures such as sclerotherapy injections, laser treatment, VenaSeal, radiofrequency ablation, and endovenous laser ablation. Know more about our services or schedule a consultation with one of our expert vein specialists by getting in touch with us today.