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Varicose veins may increase risk of blood clots

02 March 2018
Varicose veins may increase risk of blood clots

More research is needed to know whether varicose veins cause the risky clots, or if they are just a symptom of it. It's unclear whether varicose veins might cause blood clots, or whether the two share a similar cause.

In the United States, almost a quarter (23%) of adults have the condition, which doctors rarely associate with serious health risks.

However, Taiwanese researchers say they found that people with varicose veins had a 5.3-fold higher risk of deep vein thrombosis than those without varicose veins.

If a blood clot breaks free and travels to the lungs, it is called a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. Both can have serious health consequences that may become deadly. Have you got varicose veins? "The inflammatory processes may cause the study outcomes (DVT, PAD, and PE), of which the pathophysiology may be due to the inflammatory process".

Shyue-Luen Chang, M.D., from the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taoyuan, Taiwan, and colleagues enrolled 212,984 patients with varicose veins (aged 20 years and older) from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2013. Both groups contained similar proportions of women - almost 70% - and were the same average age - about 55 years old.

The incidence of PAD was also significantly higher in the varicose veins group (10.73 versus 6.22 per 1,000 person-years). One person-year is a year lived by each participant for the duration of the study.

The varicose veins group experienced 793 cases of pulmonary embolism versus just 451 cases in the other group.

They are also linked to pregnancy as gestation causes the volume of blood in the body to increase but reduces the flow from the legs to the pelvis. They could not factor out confounding behaviors, such as smoking, which can lead to blood clots.

Writing in the JAMA medicinal diary, they stated: 'Patients with varicose veins have expanded levels of provocative and ace thrombotic markers'. They found the veins were associated with a more serious condition of deep vein thrombosis. The team did not analyze ethnic differences since Taiwan's population is nearly entirely Asian, he said.

Typically, varicose veins are considered more of a cosmetic nuisance than a physical problem.

Dr. Gregory Piazza, cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said the study has a "number of strengths", including the large number of people studied.

Important to the study design was the fact that the three endpoints were analyzed separately, i.e., if a patient with DVT later developed PE or PAD, these were counted as cases in the analysis of the other endpoint (s).

Every year around 25,000 people in the United Kingdom bite the dust from a blood clot in a vein, and the condition is additionally the third driving reason for heart assaults and strokes. Benefits associated with varicose vein treatment providing effectiveness of cost and time, low risk of postoperative complications and, painless procedure is expected to augment the growth of global varicose vein treatment over the forecast period.

Further research needs to be conducted to improve understanding of the link between PE, PAD and varicose veins.

The study was supported by grants from Chang Gung Medical Research Program, and from the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology. The effect, then, of "confounding diseases" is "unknown", he added. To better understand the "intricate" genesis of these diseases, "more research is needed".