Varicose veins may be an early warning sign of potentially deadly blood clots, suggests a study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA.
Enlarged and gnarled varicose veins and deep venous thrombosis, a clot that forms in the deep veins of the body, are strongly associated, the Taiwanese researchers found.
Though they looked at the health records of more than 425,000 adults, the researchers say that even more work is needed to understand whether this relationship is one in which varicose veins directly cause blood clots or whether the two conditions simply have a similar origin.
“The most common question from a varicose vein patient in the vein clinic is: ‘Will varicose vein bring any health risk for me?’ ” said Dr. Shyueluen Chang, first author of the study and a phlebologist and dermatologist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taoyuan, Taiwan.
For this reason, Chang said, learning about potential relationships between “varicose veins and health-threatening diseases is important.”
Varicose veins, usually caused by pregnancy or the effects of age weakening the blood vessels, are common.
In the United States, nearly a quarter (23%) of adults have the condition, which doctors rarely associate with serious health risks.
By contrast, other vascular conditions and diseases — such as deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and peripheral artery disease — are thought to be serious and risky. Pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that occurs in the arteries in the lungs, and peripheral artery disease narrows the arteries leading to the legs, stomach, arms and head. Both can have serious health consequences that may become deadly.
- More varicose veins patients had deep vein thrombosis than those without gnarled veins
- Varicose vein patients were also more likely to suffer other types of blood clots
By Susan Scutti, CNN