Haemostatic factors and risk of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency: Edinburgh Vein Study

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Despite much research, the aetiology of venous disease is still poorly understood. Since haemostatic factors are involved in the processes of fibrinolysis and platelet aggregation, it is conceivable that such processes may be implicated in the pathology of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). The Edinburgh Vein Study examined 1566 men and women aged 18–64 years that were randomly selected from the lists of 12 general practitioners. Each subject completed a questionnaire, underwent a comprehensive clinical examination and had a blood sample taken for the analysis of plasma fibrinogen, tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) and von Willebrand factor (vWF) antigens. Subjects with trunk varicose veins and those with CVI had higher levels of each haemostatic factor compared with those with no trunk varices and no CVI. Although unit increases in t-PA and vWF were initially associated with a significantly increased risk of CVI in men, and both factors with an elevated risk of trunk varices in women, multiple adjustment for age, smoking status and body mass index reduced the odds ratios to non-significance. However, this does not entirely rule out the possibility of a pathogenic role for haemostatic factors in venous disease, but rather indicates the need for further experimental and epidemiological studies.

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