Harvard Heart Letter

Get a leg up on varicose veins

Varicose veins occur when the veins fail to keep blood flowing upward. Veins are fitted with a series of one-way valves designed to keep blood moving toward the heart. When these valves fail, blood can pool in the lower extremities, causing painful swelling and skin changes. The problem can be treated with compression stockings or a catheter-based procedure that closes off the faulty vein.
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