DEAR DR. ROACH: I was just told that I have brittle veins. I have exhausted every place I can think of to find out more about this condition. What is it? What causes it? What should I do? -- T.M.G.
ANSWER: There isn't a condition called "brittle veins": Whoever told you that was trying to explain a symptom you have. They may have meant that your capillaries (the smallest type of blood vessel) break easily. That's a cause of easy bruising. They may have meant that you have stiff blood vessels, from calcium or cholesterol. That's a cause of high blood pressure. They may have been trying to draw blood or put in an IV and found that your vein "blew," meaning the needle went through the vein entirely and you had bleeding under the skin.