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Venous insufficiency and varicose veins eventually will affect most adults in North America. Since genetics, age, abdominal obesity, previous pregnancies, and prolonged sitting or standing usually are the most important causes of venous insufficiency and varicose veins, modifications in lifestyle may slow down the progressive changes associated with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

Avoidance of obesity or reduction of obesity probably is the most important lifestyle activity for most Americans who wish to slow down development of CVI. Avoidance of prolonged sitting or standing, when feasible, is helpful. Frequent walking, even for a short distance, causes the calf muscles to pump venous blood out of the legs and relieves the pressure in the superficial veins of the legs. Calf muscle pump exercises involving repetitive contraction of the muscles in the back of the calf will also pump venous blood out of the legs. Periodic elevation of the legs higher than the heart will allow partial recovery of the legs after prolonged sitting or standing.

The routine daily use of properly-fitted graduated compression elastic support hose will assist the calf muscles in pumping venous blood out of the legs, limits stretching of the veins of the superficial tissues beneath the hose, and will reduce swelling of the legs. Proper hose use usually will help with discomfort due to venous insufficiency and will slow down progression of venous insufficiency and varicose veins.

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