Varicose veins are common, and although they’re considered benign if you have them, you probably know that they can cause a lot of anguish, especially for some people, because of the appearance and pain they can bring. But severe varicose veins may bring about more serious consequences.
The link between varicose veins severity and heart risks remains unknown. So, too, is the association between severe varicose veins and death. But the results of a recent study sheds some light on just how strong an association there might be.
The overall aim of this study was to investigate the factors associated with overall mortality in patients with varicose veins. So, let’s look at what researchers discovered and what it means for you if you develop varicose veins.
Researchers at the Chi Mei Medical Center in Taiwan used Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Database to identify nearly 4,700 people with newly diagnosed varicose veins. Varicose veins severity was classified from grade 1 to 3 depending on the appearance of ulcers or inflammation, with 3 being the most severe.
They compared the varicose veins group to a group of people who were about the same age, the same sex, and had chronic cardiovascular risk factors.
People in the varicose veins group with severity at grade 3 had an increased risk of death that was nearly two times higher than the groups without varicose veins. And their risk of developing heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, ischaemic stroke and venous thromboembolism was anywhere from 2 to 38 times higher than the comparison group.
Researchers say that their findings suggest that the presence of varicose veins should prompt doctors to closely monitor people with severe varicose veins in terms of prognosis and treatment.
Varicose veins indicate a blood flow problem when your veins are carrying blood back to the heart to be oxygenated. But varicose veins don’t cause or indicate heart problems.
But if you’re one of the thousands of people who simultaneously suffer from heart disease and varicose veins, you may be more prone to developing infections and swelling.
For example, if you suffer right-sided heart failure, you may feel an increase in vein pressure in your legs. If it’s left untreated, your varicose veins can lead to increased pain and swelling, or an inflammatory condition in your vein. In short, existing heart problems, especially congestive heart failure, can make vein problems in the legs much worse depending on the degree of the heart issue.
If you think you have varicose veins and would like to get them treated, you have many options. They range from conservative to laser treatments and beyond.
More serious cases of varicose veins may need to be surgically removed, but this typically applies to larger veins.
If you’re still not sure what treatment may be right for you, this video may also help you with your decision. Three people describe their own varicose vein pain and what they did to get rid of it.
Or if you want to learn more about the causes of varicose veins and the threats they can pose to your health, download our free infographic.