I started to to think the pathophysiology of elevating legs high next to the wall too often and when you are tired. I think possible manifestations

  • some damage to valves of the veins (No!)
  • because of collateral circulation, rhombus, heart damage, ... (No! Only in pathological situation but cannot be considered here. I think here that the risk of thrombus leaving legs is higher when you elevate your legs.)

Other side is when you should do this. To do regularly like every evening - may not be the right way to go. If you are tired and you do this, the vasomotor tonus is already lower so smooth muscles can less help to keep the blood so much more stress to the valves. Cardiac output is also less because of tiredness so lymphatic drainage is less. Elevating legs will move more lymph and blood to the middle of the body. So less lymph and blood can be moved back to legs when you tired.

What are the risks of elevating legs for too long time in Short time and Long time? Is there any advantage in elevating legs like increasing blood circulation of our body?

In what manner would elevating legs harm valves?

There should be no damage to valves because the direction of the blood circulation does not change. Blood is only going from legs to heart. I think the vasoconstriction of smooth muscles occurs first in the legs. This returns some blood to the legs.

How is lymph made - -?

Lymph is made in lymph nodes. After leaving the node, it is rich in lymphocytes. After leaving digestive system, it is rich in triglycerides so called chyle. I think after leaving legs it is also rich in triglycerides.

[W]hat is the danger of lymph leaving the legs?

I think the effective lymph (that one used in legs) is coming from the lymph nodes of the legs. Some lymph can be made in lymph nodes of legs so no danger of lymph leaving legs. However, some may come from the region of coxa. How long distance can lymph travel as effective unit of immune system?

If all lymph nodes are working, there is no danger of lymph leaving the legs, I think. If there are problems with lymph nodes of legs, then there may occur some constitutional symptoms of legs - but not sure about how fast.

Does the heart get tired like your head does, or like muscles after exercise?


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    $\begingroup$ Valves in veins are one way. In what manner would elevating legs harm valves? How is lymph made and what is the danger of lymph leaving the legs? Does the heart get tired like your head does, or like muscles after exercise? I think if you examine these issues, you'll have a better understanding of what happens when you elevate your legs whether you're tired or not. $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2014 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse Thank you for your comment! I answered your questions. Do you have anything to add? $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2014 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ Nothing but an answer. I appreciate your improvements! $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2014 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


To answer your questions, one needs to address certain issues one at a time.

Veins do have valves, but they function to hold blood from settling in the legs. When you flex muscles, the blood flows towards the heart. Valve failure occurs when people stand (especially if they stand relatively still) for long periods of time every day over many years, dilating veins. You can see this on the surface of the legs as varicose veins. One way to treat varicose veins is with elevation. So, elevation does not harm vein valves.

Lymph is made at the arterial end of capillaries and is part of the interstitial fluid of tissues. It bathes cells, and returns to the circulation via the lymphatic system (which also has one-way valves), goes through lymph nodes, and returns to the blood via connections with the subclavian veins. The treatment for too much lymph in the lower extremities (also known as edema) is to elevate the legs. So, elevation does not harm the lymphatics system.

The heart was made to pump all day, every day, for many, many years. It doesn't get "tired" during a tiring day, and doesn't need to rest like we do. But it can get weak and pump inefficiently if injured (e.g. myocarditis, myocardial infarct), or if it pumps against high arterial pressure (hypertension).

As long as you have healthy arteries to the legs, I can't see how your legs can suffer by elevation.

The main effect that I can think of is on baroreceptors. The increased volume of blood in your upper body will cause an increased stroke volume from the heart, sensed by baroreceptors, and may cause smooth muscle dilation of the vascular system. In the short term, that means you will experience more pronounced orthostatic hypotension on standing (you will be dizzier). The long-term effect from elevation for a couple of hours a day are basically nil.

Since you asked about these parameters only, I won't elucidate on other possible effects.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer! You can also include other possible effects. Just separate the body by "---" for clarity. I am very interested in about long-term effects because, sometimes, I hold my legs elevated more than a couple of hours - which you can feel then afterwards. I think it is a different feeling than holding for short-time. I must verify this again. Assume you do this just before you go to sleep i.e. when your blood pressure is low, effect on baroreceptors low and also on smooth musculature. $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2014 at 6:31

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