Height may be a risk factor for varicose veins and could provide researchers with clues to treat the condition, a study published Monday in Circulation suggested.
A team from the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study of human genes in order to understand the causes of varicose veins and discovered a link between height and the little understood condition.
"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," said study author Nicholas Leeper.
To arrive at their findings, researchers studied the genes of over 400,000 people in an effort to gain more insight into the condition of which surprisingly little is known.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines varicose veins as "swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the surface of the skin."
They predominantly occur in the legs, but they also can form in other parts of the body.
The NHLB describes varicose veins as a common condition that can cause mild to moderate pain, blood clots, skin ulcers, or other problems.
It is believed that weak veins cause varicose veins but as study co-author Alyssa Flores noted," shockingly little" is known about the condition.
"There are no medical therapies that can prevent it or reverse it once it's there," she said.
Over 30 percent of Americans suffer from the condition and yet dozens of myths continue to engulf medical research, the Vein Clinics of America said.
In the study, Leeper and his team decided to take a closer look at the condition by examining genetic makeup.
They looked for risk factors through the use of machine learning and epidemiological methods and then screened for genetic markers in participants with varicose vein disease.
The researchers were able to confirm some of the widely accepted risk factors, which made people who are pregnant, overweight and older more prone to developing varicose veins.
However, they also identified 30 genes linked to varicose vein disorder and established a correlation between the condition and height.
"Our results strongly suggest height is a cause, not just a correlated factor, but an underlying mechanism leading to varicose veins," said study co-author Erik Ingelsson. "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."
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