Reminder that varicose veins are not just a ‘cosmetic’ issue

newsGP writers

11/04/2022 1:37:54 PM

SPONSORED: Chronic venous insufficiency is a progressive medical condition that may worsen over time and impact patient quality of life.

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

It is estimated that chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) impacts more than 190 million people around the world.
The condition affects the veins and vessels in the leg that carry oxygen-poor blood back toward the heart, and can leave people with painful, swollen and tired legs, as well as skin damage 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 can include: 

  • aching or pain
  • cramping
  • heaviness or tiredness
  • itching
  • restlessness
  • skin changes
  • open sores or ulcers.
There are also a number of risk factors patients and clinicians should be aware of, such as:
  • family history
  • lack of exercise
  • leg injury or trauma
  • prolonged sitting or standing
  • obesity or excess weight
  • 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 decreases in patient quality of life.
These ulcers are brought on from the increased build-up of fluid and blood pressure from veins affected by CVI, and typically may appear near the ankles or lower leg.
Current treatment options
A recent study showed that patients who receive early vein closure treatment along with compression stocking therapy for venous leg ulcers experience a shorter healing time, as well as extended time free from ulcers.
GPs can now also co-claim six amended MBS items for the treatment of varicose veins with other venography items.
The goal of treatment for vein disease is to reduce or stop the backward flow of blood, and as such the following interventions may be considered to treat varicose veins:
  • Compression stockings
  • Closing diseased veins through:
    • thermal ablation – a procedure that uses radiofrequency energy or heat to close the diseased vein, which redirects blood flow to healthy veins
    • nonthermal treatment – a procedure that delivers a small amount of a medical adhesive to close the diseased vein, rerouting blood to nearby healthy veins
So, while CVI can be a debilitating and chronic illness, hope for patients remains as it is preventable – provided they receive the correct treatment at an early enough stage.
This article was commissioned and paid for by Medtronic (10355-112021) and is intended as an aid to Chronic Venous Insufficiency assessment. Medical practitioners should rely on their clinical skills and judgment when utilising information provided in this article. 
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Medtronic varicose veins

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