Caption: Varicose veins. Enlarged, superficial veins seen on a patient's legs around the knee. The condition is one of distended, lengthened and tortuous veins, most commonly affecting the legs of elderly women. The cause is the weakening of valves in these veins causing abnormal blood flow; sometimes a blood clot (thrombosis) can form and may cause fatal pulmonary embolism. Contributing factors include obesity, hormonal changes at pregnancy and menopause, and standing for long periods of time. Varicose veins may also be an inherited condition. Treatment is with elastic support stockings, regular walking & sitting with feet up. In severe cases surgery may be required.
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