Varicose veins are significantly associated with a greater risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), researchers reported in JAMA.
Varicose veins occur frequently, but they have typically not been linked with serious medical conditions. In this study, researchers from Taiwan retrospectively used claims data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program to determine whether an association exists between varicose veins and increased risk of DVT, pulmonary embolism (PE), or peripheral artery disease (PAD).
The study included 212,984 patients aged 20 years and older with varicose veins, as well as a control group of the same number of patients without varicose veins who were matched by propensity score. Enrollment occurred between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2013, and patients who were previously diagnosed with DVT, PE, or PAD were excluded from the study.
Patients with varicose veins were followed for a median of 7.5 years for DVT, 7.8 years for PE, and 7.3 years for PAD. Patients in the control group were followed for a median of 7.6 years for DVT, 7.7 years for PE, and 7.4 years for PAD.
Results revealed that there were higher incidence rates of DVT in the varicose veins group than in the control group [(6.55 vs 1.23 per 1000 person-years [10 360 vs 1980 cases]; absolute risk difference [ARD], 5.32 [95% CI, 5.18-5.46]). There was also higher incidence of PE in varicose veins group (0.48 for the varicose veins group vs 0.28 for the control group per 1000 person-years [793 vs 451 cases]; ARD, 0.20 [95% CI, 0.16-0.24]) and of PAD (10.73 for the varicose veins group vs 6.22 for the control group per 1000 person-years [16 615 vs 9709 cases]; ARD, 4.51 [95% CI, 4.31-4.71]).
“Among adults diagnosed with varicose veins, there was a significantly increased risk of incident DVT; the findings for PE and PAD are less clear due to the potential for confounding,” the researchers stated. They added, “Whether the association between varicose veins and DVT is causal or represents a common set of risk factors requires further research.”
Chang S, Huang Y, Lee M, et al. Association of varicose veins with incident venous thromboembolism and peripheral artery disease. JAMA. 2018;319(8):807-817.