It’s time to stop ignoring varicose veins. A recent study reports an increased risk for DVT, PE, and PAD in patients having varicose veins.
Recent study links varicose veins to significant risks. A study of over 425,000 adults showed link between varicose veins and peripheral artery disease and pulmonary embolus. Those with varicose veins also have a significantly increased risk of DVT.
Do you suffer from varicose veins? Nearly 23% of US adults are affected by this common condition. A variety of factors can cause varicose veins including obesity, trauma to the legs, damaged valves inside the veins and medical conditions that affect blood flow. Varicose veins cause symptoms including unsightly bulging veins, leg discomfort and heaviness, and swelling. More severe cases can lead to chronic swelling, skin discoloration and breakdown and non-healing skin sores (ulcers).
Those without any significant symptoms from varicose veins are not out of the woods. A new study shows a link between having varicose veins and an increased risk for serious problems such as blood clots in the legs and lungs as well as blood vessel problems leading to poor circulation.
Varicose Veins and DVT
A new study of over 425,000 patients noted a significant risk of developing blood clots in the legs for those people having varicose veins. This condition is known as deep venous thrombosis or DVT. Most DVT patients require treatment with a blood thinning medication. These medications can have serious risks including bleeding, stroke, and death.
Varicose Veins and Pulmonary Embolus
The study also showed that those people having varicose veins are at a higher risk of developing blood clots in the lungs. A pulmonary embolus or PE occurs when a blood clot breaks free from a vein in the leg or groin and travels to the lungs blocking a blood vessel. Common symptoms of a pulmonary embolus include chest pain, painful breathing, shortness of breath, and low-grade fever. Left untreated, a PE can cause chronic shortness of breath and increases strain on the heart. More massive pulmonary embolisms can cause passing out and even death.
Varicose Veins and PAD
Another disturbing finding from this study was that people with varicose veins have an increased risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD). This condition causes inadequate blood flow to the limbs. Those with PAD often notice leg pain when walking, muscle cramps, cold or discolored toes and fingers, and in more severe cases ulcers can form. Severe and untreated cases can lead to amputation.
Researchers believe that people affected by varicose veins have higher levels of inflammation in the body and also an increase in substances in the blood that promote the formation of blood clots.
It was interesting to note that the risk of developing the serious complications (DVT, PE, PAD) discussed above increases over the course of a person’s life. This study followed patients with varicose veins for about eight years, and researchers noticed a steady rise in research participants developing these more serious problems.
What is also alarming is data from several previous varicose vein studies. German and Finnish researchers noted higher rates of blood clot formation in those with varicose veins, but also an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke for those affected by varicose veins. One study reported a 10-fold increased risk for developing a blood clot in the leg for those having varicose veins.