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How vein problems occur

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Veins have valves that keep blood moving back toward the heart. Problems occur when a valve no longer works properly. This allows blood to flow backward in the vein, creating pressure on the valves below.

Swollen ankles, tired aching legs

Swollen ankles and leg discomfort are often caused by the reduced ability of the veins to move blood back toward the heart. This can happen when you stand or sit for long periods of time.

Pooling. When a poorly closing valve allows blood to flow backwards, blood can back up and collect, or pool, in the veins. Pooling of blood causes swelling, especially near the ankles and feet.

Varicose veins. When a valve is damaged, the backup of blood results in higher pressure in the veins below. This high pressure may strain the wall of the veins, causing them to enlarge. Varicose veins are enlarged superficial veins that become visible bulges under the skin.

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