24 September 2018
MONDAY, Sept. 24, 2018 (HealthDay News) — How tall you are might play a part in whether you are unlucky enough to develop varicose veins, a new study suggests. Every additional 4 inches in height increases your risk of varicose veins by about 25 percent, said researcher Dr. Erik Ingelsson, a professor of cardiovascular medicine with Stanford University School of Medicine. “We have pretty robust evidence that height is actually causally related through genetics with increased risk of having varicose veins,” Ingelsson said, though the study did not definitively prove causality. Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, gnarled veins that can be seen just below the surface of the skin. They are often dark purple or blue in color, and most frequently appear on the legs. Varicose veins do not increase a person’s risk for heart attack or stroke, explained cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of NYU Langone’s Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health in New York City. “They’re generally a benign condition,” said Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. But these veins can become achy, itchy or painful, and can contribute to swelling of the legs due to fluid retention, she added. Varicose veins affect up to 25 percent of women and 15 percent of men, according to the Vascular Disease Foundation. How do varicose veins develop? Veins are designed to quickly shoot blood back up to the heart, with one-way valves that encourage blood flow, Goldberg said. When these one-way valves start to fail, blood can start pooling the veins, causing them to swell and stretching the vein walls. It’s been known that there are genetic factors involved in development of varicose veins, Ingelsson said. A family history of varicose veins makes it more likely you’ll develop them as well. To explore potential risk factors for varicose veins, researchers analyzed the health of more than 413,000 people aged 40 to 69 across the United Kingdom. This included a screen of genetic markers for more than 337,000 of those participants, including nearly 9,600 with varicose veins. Researchers confirmed a series of known risk factors, including age, gender, obesity, pregnancy and history of deep vein thrombosis (when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the legs). But when they sorted people by height, they found that those in the tallest quarter of folks were 74 percent more likely to develop varicose veins than the shortest quarter of people. Further, the researchers linked genes that determine a person’s height to their risk for varicose veins. The researchers also found a strong genetic correlation between deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins. It’s possible that height puts additional strain on veins trying to return blood to the heart, Ingelsson said. “If you’re taller, you have higher pressure downwards on your veins,” he said. “The veins are pushing the blood back up to the heart. If you’re tall, that creates more pressure.” Tall people can help reduce their risk of varicose veins by wearing compression socks, especially if they spend a lot of time on their feet, Goldberg said. Varicose veins that have become very unsightly or uncomfortable can be safely removed through laser surgery, she added. “In cases where these veins are irritated, itching, infected or contributing to swelling, you really should see a vascular specialist because you may be a candidate for a vein procedure to help eliminate the varicose veins,” Goldberg said. The study was published Sept. 24 in the journal Circulation. More information There’s more from the U.S. National Institutes of Health about varicose veins.
27 February 2018
TUESDAY, Feb. 27, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Those tangled blue varicose veins that can pop up on your legs as you age may be more than unsightly: New research suggests they might quintuple your risk of dangerous blood clots. Known as deep venous thrombosis (DVT), these clots in the legs can be life-threatening if they travel to the lungs or heart, Taiwanese researchers said. “Varicose veins are not merely a cosmetic or symptomatic concern, because they may be associated with increasing risk of more serious disease,” explained lead researcher Dr. Shyue-Luen Chang, a phlebologist in the department of dermatology at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taoyuan. Varicose veins are a common condition affecting about 23 percent of American adults, the researchers said. “Patients with varicose veins may warrant careful monitoring and early evaluation,” Chang added. Among a group of more than 425,000 people, half of whom had varicose veins, Chang’s team found that the condition was associated with 5.3 times increased risk of deep venous thrombosis. Whether varicose veins cause the clots, or are a real risk for them, however, is not known, Chang said. More research is needed since the study did not prove that varicose veins cause the clots, he said. “Not much is known about varicose veins and the risk for these other diseases,” Chang said. “Elucidating potential associations between varicose veins and health-threatening diseases is important.” The researchers also found a trend for an increased risk of pulmonary embolisms or PE (clots in the lung) or PAD (narrowing of the leg arteries) among those with varicose veins, but they weren’t able to tell if varicose veins were a real risk for these conditions. For the study, Chang and colleagues used data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program. Patients were enrolled in the database from 2001 to 2013, and they were followed through 2014. One weakness of the study is that insurance claims data do not include information on patients who don’t seek medical care. Therefore, the findings may apply only to risk among patients with more severe varicose veins who needed medical attention, the researchers explained. One U.S. cardiologist called for more research on the possible connection. “Given the very high prevalence of varicose veins in the general population worldwide, the results of this trial should trigger future studies to further investigate the effect of varicose veins on the inflammation and formation of a blood clot, and to assess the link between the severity of varicose veins and DVT,” said Dr. Maja Zaric. She’s an interventional cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. The study suggests that varicose veins should be taken more seriously and likely treated more aggressively, she said. “It is prudent to establish which category of patients with varicose veins is at the greatest risk and how aggressive and early the treatment should be to prevent serious complications, given morbidity and mortality associated with both DVT and PE,” Zaric said. The report was published Feb. 27 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. More information Visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for more on varicose veins.