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Cardiovascular Health Channel
Reported November 6, 2006

Hardening of the Veins?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- We've all heard of hardening of the arteries. But hardening of the veins? It's a real condition, report researchers from the University of Delaware and Christiana Care Health System in Newark.

They uncovered the condition after studying younger and older people and how their veins react during different situations. Results suggest young veins are elastic, and thus allow blood to move freely. Older veins are stiffer and make it more difficult for blood to flow, fostering conditions like high blood pressure.

"Based on previous research, we suspected that the veins of the older adults would be less flexible than those of the younger adults," reports study author William Farquhar Ph.D., a cardiovascular physiologist in the University of Delaware's College of Health Sciences. "But we didn't know if that might be due to a functional process, such as a chronic constriction of the muscles around the veins, or if this decreased flexibility was due to some change in the structure of the veins themselves."

Testing people under various conditions, like when their foot was immersed in cold water or when they were squeezing a handgrip, demonstrated that outside influences were not to blame because no differences were noted between the younger and older people under these different conditions.

"Thus, we think that the stiffening of our veins as we age is probably due to structural changes, such as a thickening of the vein walls," reports Dr. Farquhar. "Hardening of the arteries is a good analogy for what is happening in our veins as we grow older."

Is there anything people can do to keep their veins young? The researchers aren't sure but say regular exercise is probably the best bet.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.

SOURCE: Journal of Applied Physiology, published online Oct. 31, 2006

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