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August 21, 2008 12:00 AM by

Varicose veins are mainly a hereditary condition, but doctors actually see them two to four times more frequently in women than in men. The reason? Pregnancy. Your growing uterus, along with weight gain and fluid retention, all put extra pressure on the vein walls, which can accelerate vein damage.

Wearing compression or support hose controls leg swelling and stops blood from pooling in your leg veins. “If you have a family history of varicose veins, I would recommend hose because your chances [of getting them] are much higher,” says John Mauriello, M.D., an American College of Phlebology national board member who practices at The Vein Center in Bradenton, FL. “But anybody who’s experiencing swollen, achy, throbbing, tired legs during pregnancy should [wear] hose.”

Here’s more advice:

 

Avoid standing for prolonged periods.
Don’t cross your legs when sitting.
When resting, keep legs elevated above the heart to improve blood flow.
Keep yourself well hydrated.
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables; they help prevent constipation and, along with good hydration, can help you avoid another pregnancy-related vein complication: hemorrhoids.
Exercise daily; it can be as easy as taking a stroll. “Just by walking, you squeeze the blood back up into the heart and lungs from the legs,” Mauriello says.

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