Capitol Vein Blog

Thursday, March 20, 2014

DVT Awareness Month - Know the Risks of Untreated Varicose Veins

Did you know?

--Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) affect upwards of 600,000 Americans each year and cause more deaths each year than the more well-publicized conditions of breast cancer, AIDS, and motor vehicle accidents.

--DVT/PE are a leading cause of preventable hospital deaths in the United States. 

--DVT/PE are the leading cause of maternal death in the United States. 

--One-half of DVT/PE patients will have long-term complications and one-third will have a recurrence within 10 years. 

--An estimated $10 billion of medical costs in the United States each year can be attributed to DVT and PE.

While there are a multitude of potential causes of DVT, we know that varicose veins are a clear predisposing factor. In fact, just this month alone, we've seen three patients with moderate sized varicosities and acute DVTs. None of the patients had predisposing factors that would increase the risk of DVT and each was fully ambulatory and free of other major medical problems.

Venous insufficiency causes stagnant flow of blood in the dilated leg veins, which increases the risk of superficial thrombophlebitis. Detailed studies have shown that nearly 10% of patients with superficial phlebitis have associated DVT due to clot progression from the surface veins, through perforator veins, into the deep system.  The DVTs associated with varicose veins cause every bit as much morbidity and potential mortality as do other DVTs. Treatment is similar.

We advise physicians and other providers to be aware of the potential risks of even asymptomatic moderate to large varicose veins. Patients should be aware that sitting in a cramped airline cabin creates a recognized risk of DVT. We encourage our patients to walk the cabin periodically and use graded support hose during longer flights to reduce the risk of blood clots. They should always be encouraged to seek evaluation and treatment to restore normal leg vascular health and avoid potential serious complications.

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