Many factors can increase your risk for varicose veins. The most important of these are heredity (having a family history of vein disease), age (being over 50), gender (women are more at risk than men), pregnancy, and being overweight or obese. But did you know that one of the things that can greatly increase your risk of developing varicose vein is your JOB?
Clinical studies have found that if you work in one the following professions, you have a much higher varicose vein risk than those who work in other types of jobs:
- Nurses, doctors, and health care workers
- Factory workers
- Cashiers and retail workers
- Hair stylists and barbers
- Restaurant workers (hostesses, waiters, cook staff)
- Flight attendants
- Office and computer workers
- Commercial drivers (truckers, cab drivers, etc.)
WHY do these professions increase your varicose vein risk?
The primary job-related characteristic that increases varicose veins risk is lack of movement. This includes jobs like the first 7 in the above list that require you to stand all day, but it also includes jobs like the last two that require you to sit all day. Either standing or sitting for a long time increases your risk for varicose veins. This is because staying in one position for a long time forces your veins to work harder to pump blood to your heart.
The science proving that prolonged periods of standing or sitting increase varicose vein risk is pretty conclusive. A 2005 Danish study of nearly 10,000 workers found that "prolonged standing at work constitutes an excess risk of hospital treatment due to varicose vein, and accounts for more than one fifth of all cases of working age." A 2015 study on nurses from three general hospitals indicated the same increased risk. A 2012 study in the journal Ergonomics concluded that "…the odds ratio of varicose veins was significantly high for prolonged standing for male and female workers."
Some studies found that the risk associated with standing for long periods is even worse if you are overweight. A 2014 Japanese study found that the combination of prolonged standing at work and overweight exacerbate varicose vein development. And a 2015 study of hairdressers concluded that "varicose veins in the legs of female hairdressers had a high prevalence, and it was associated with increasing age, family history of varicose disease, high blood pressure, and prolonged standing."
So if your job forces you to stand or sit all day, how can you protect yourself?
Don't despair, and feel that you have to quit your job. There are a number of things you can do to keep your blood pumping and prevent varicose veins:
- Make sure to get sufficient regular exercise, in particular walking or jogging.
- Reduce pressure on your veins by maintaining a healthy weight.
- If you can, take frequent "mini-breaks." Instead of sending a letter to a printer close to your desk, send it one on another floor, and take the stairs to fetch it.
- If you have to stand, choose shoes with flat heels rather than high heels.
- Wear compression stockings to improve circulation and keep blood from pooling in your leg veins.
- When sitting, shift your position often and try to avoid crossing your legs.
- When you can take a real break at work, elevate your legs for a few minutes.
Naturally, you should also see your doctor on a regular basis. If you have other risk factors for varicose veins such as family history, you should consider giving the experts at The Vein Institute a call at 1 300 535 017. They can give you other tips for how to keep your veins healthy while keeping your job.