Remember that varicose veins are not just a “cosmetic” problem


SPONSORED: Chronic venous insufficiency is a progressive disease that can worsen over time and impact the patient’s quality of life.

Varicose veins often precede the more serious condition of chronic venous insufficiency.

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is estimated to affect more than 190 million people worldwide.

The disease affects the veins and vessels in the leg that carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart and can leave people with sore, swollen and tired legs, as well as skin lesions and ulcers.

In fact, 70% of all ulcers below the knee are caused by diseased veins, while more than half of venous ulcers requiring treatment are recurrent ulcerations.

It is also often preceded by varicose veins, while other signs and symptoms of CVI may include:

  • aches or pains
  • cramps
  • heaviness or fatigue
  • itch
  • hustle
  • skin changes
  • open sores or ulcers.

There are also a number of risk factors that patients and clinicians should be aware of, such as:

  • family history
  • lack of exercise
  • leg injury or trauma
  • prolonged sitting or standing
  • obesity or overweight
  • current or previous pregnancies
  • smoking.

Due to pain, mobility limitations, and other consequences, venous leg ulcers have sometimes been associated with increased rates of depression and decreased quality of life for patients.

These ulcers are caused by the increased buildup of fluid and blood pressure in the veins affected by CVI, and can usually appear near the ankles or lower leg.

Current treatment options

A recent study has shown that patients who receive early vein closure treatment with compression stocking therapy for venous leg ulcers experience a shorter healing time, as well as an extended ulcer-free time.

GPs can now also co-claim six modified MBS items for the treatment of varicose veins with other venography items.

The goal of treatment for venous disease is to reduce or stop blood reflux, and as such, the following interventions may be considered to treat varicose veins:

  • Compression stockings
  • Closure of diseased veins by:
    • thermal ablation – a procedure that uses radiofrequency energy or heat to close the diseased vein, which redirects blood flow to healthy veins
    • non-thermal treatment – a procedure that delivers a small amount of medical adhesive to close the diseased vein, redirecting blood to nearby healthy veins

So, although CVI can be a debilitating and chronic condition, hope for patients remains because it is preventable – provided they receive the correct treatment at an early enough stage..

This item was ordered and paid for by Medtronic (10355-112021) and is intended as an aid in the assessment of chronic venous insufficiency. Physicians should rely on their clinical skills and judgment when using the information provided in this article.

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Medtronic varicose veins