Can varicose veins be a sign of deep vein thrombosis?

27th March 2018 by Daryll Baker0
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Varicose veins, they’re unsightly and a nuisance, but they’re not life-threatening, right? Not necessarily. According to a study published recently on The JAMA Network, varicose veins could be a warning sign for potentially deadly clots known as deep vein thrombosis.

The Association of Varicose Veins With Incident Venous Thromboemolism and Peripheral Artery Disease report involved analysing the health records of more than 425,000 adults. The study concluded that varicose veins are strongly associated with deep venous thrombosis, clots which form in the deep veins of the body.

Half of the patients in the research had varicose veins and half didn’t. It found that the group of patients with varicose veins had higher incident rates for deep vein thrombosis. According to Dr. Shyueluen Chang, first author of the study:

“[Varicose veins patients] had about a five times greater risk of developing deep vein thrombosis than the other group.”

Despite the findings of the study, the researchers say that more needs to be done to understand the relationship between whether varicose veins directly result in blood clots forming, or whether the two conditions merely have a similar origin.

Varicose veins, which are typically caused by age and the weakening of the blood vessels, pregnancy and obesity, are rarely associated with serious health risks, unlike other vascular diseases, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can pose as a more serious health risk.

DVT usually occurs in a deep leg vein, which runs through the muscles of the thigh and the calf. The clot can cause swelling and pain and can lead to serious conditions such as pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism refers to when a piece of the blood clot breaks off and goes into the bloodstream, blocking a blood vessel in the lungs.

If you are worried at all about varicose veins or other vascular conditions, it is wise to seek advice from a doctor or a specialist in vascular health to discuss the condition and the best form of treatment.

The vascular vein experts at the Vascular Consultancy can offer you advice about the common conditions that affect the health of the veins and what would be the best type of treatment for you.


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Daryll Baker is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital London and Clinical Lead for North Central Region Vascular Services.

He read Medicine at Oxford University and trained in Vascular Surgery in Nottingham, London and Edinburgh. He obtained his research PhD from the University of Wales.

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