-- The stronger the muscles, the more effective they are at pumping blood back up to the heart. The best exercise for preventing varicose veins is walking.
-- Losing weight and working out more can reduce the risk of developing varicose veins and ameliorate the effect of existing varicose veins. Avoid standing or sitting for long periods, and elevate the legs when possible, especially while sleeping. (It's easier for the blood to flow back to the heart when it is flowing downhill.)
-- Compression stockings also help. They squeeze the leg, reducing the amount of blood in and pressure on the legs. Don't try to choose a pair yourself. Seek a doctor's help to determine how much pressure should be applied to your leg.
-- If you have swelling of the leg, flaking or itching skin, or skin ulcers near the ankle, see a doctor right away.
The ulcers, a possibly serious condition, can be caused by fluid leaking into the skin tissue when blood backs up instead of returning to the heart.
For a self-assessment test, visit www.RethinkVaricoseVeins.com.