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Are Varicose Veins an Early Warning Sign for DVT?

Posted: March 20, 2018

Are Varicose Veins an Early Warning Sign for DVT?  A recent study published in the Journal American Medical Association (JAMA) found a significant association between varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and less clear potential associations with pulmonary embolism (PE) and peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The significance of this large, retrospective population study (over 400,000 people) is that varicose veins are a common condition but may be associated with increased health risks, especially for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT, pulmonary embolism (PE), and peripheral artery disease (PAD) are all vascular diseases with severe systemic effects and may be life-threatening.

Researchers looked at the health records of more than 425,000 adults over a 12-year period. The study concluded that more work is needed to understand whether varicose veins directly cause blood clots or whether the two conditions have a similar origin due to a common set of risk factors.

Dr. Stephen Daugherty, the medical director of VeinCare Centers of Tennessee, says, “Pain, tenderness, or swelling of the legs can be due to many things including varicose veins and, sometimes, DVT. Whatever the cause of these symptoms, the legs should be evaluated by an expert in the evaluation and treatment of venous disorders”.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

DVT Infographic - Veincare Centers of Tennessee 200 pxMarch is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month and a good time to talk about risk factors. Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is the formation of a blood clot inside the deeper veins of the body, especially in the legs.

The deep veins of the extremities are the veins within the muscles. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), clotting in the veins of the extremity muscles or in the pelvis, abdomen, or chest is a serious condition which can lead to major disability or death if the thrombus is extensive and obstructs venous blood flow through enough tissue or migrates to the lungs and obstructs flow (pulmonary embolism).

More than 2 million people in the United States are affected by DVT each year and more than 600,000 people are hospitalized.

Download our DVT Infographic

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are abnormally stretched veins measuring over 3 mm in diameter. Over time, veins in the body stretch so they become larger in diameter and some elongate as well. This stretching of veins occurs over a period of years and is caused by the pressure of blood inside the veins. Much of the problem is genetic and at least 19 different genes are implicated in this process. The vein walls stretch more in some people than in others. Many other factors are associated with the development of varicose veins including obesity, pregnancy, prolonged sitting or standing, or obstruction of veins in the abdomen or pelvis.

As veins stretch, the one-way valves in the veins fail to allow blood to run away from the heart toward the feet due to the effects of gravity. This valve failure results in increasingly high pressure in the veins and worsening stretching of the veins. This process is called venous insufficiency and the abnormal downward flow of blood in the veins is called reflux.

Varicose veins may cause no symptoms at all. More often, varicose veins are associated with pain, tenderness, swelling at the ankle or calf, or brown-pigmented skin or a rash at the ankles or calves. In addition to causing veins to bulge and stretch, additional unpleasant side effects may include:

  • Heavy and tired legs
  • Aching and throbbing pain
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Leg cramps
  • Restless Leg Syndrome

Heredity is a primary factor in over 80% of varicose vein cases. Other contributing factors may include pregnancy, obesity, hormone therapy, standing or sitting for long periods of time and injury.


Evaluation of varicose veins is important since they usually are a sign of progressive valve failure and changes which place the patient at risk for clotting in the veins (thrombosis), infection in the feet or legs, or skin ulcers.

Patients with varicose veins and any sign of swelling of the ankle, soft tissue pain or tenderness, or abnormal skin changes in the ankle or calf should be evaluated clinically and should be studied with color duplex ultrasound to map the major veins of the legs and to evaluate the veins for venous insufficiency (valve failure).

Varicose veins may be treated a number of different ways depending on the location, size, and shape of the abnormal veins. Elastic compression stockings are helpful in the management of varicose veins and may slow down progression, but patients with varicose veins often need other procedures which may include foam sclerotherapy, endovenous thermal ablation, or microphlebectomy.

Advances in non-thermal venous ablation treatments have resulted in additional treatment options.

  • Varithena treatment involves the injection of medicine into the vein with ultrasound guidance to direct the medication into the abnormal vein, which causes the veins to close.
  • VenaSeal Closure System is an innovative treatment that is the only procedure to use a medical-grade adhesive to close abnormal saphenous veins. The adhesive is inserted into the vein under ultrasound guidance via a small catheter and seals the vein shut.
  • ClariVein is a specialty infusion catheter with a rotating wire tip designed for the controlled 360-degree dispersion of medication to the targeted saphenous veins. This process causes the malfunctioning veins to close down.

VeinCare Centers of Tennessee

VeinCare Centers of Tennessee is one of a small number of vein centers in the United States which offer comprehensive, specialized vein care on a full-time basis. The practice provides a thorough clinical evaluation, detailed venous ultrasound studies by skilled vascular technologists, individualized treatment plans, and treatment by a very experienced and skilled physician.

It’s attractive and comfortable facility was designed and built in a Class A medical office building with the needs of the vein patient in mind. Operating rooms were designed specifically for vein procedures and the focus is on offering state-of-the-art evaluation and treatment for problems ranging from tiny spider veins to complex venous reconstructive problems.


For more information about varicose veins and to learn if treatment might be right for you, call VeinCare Centers of Tennessee at (931) 551-8991 to learn more.

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