Background: A study was carried out in Greece with the aim of assessing the prevalence of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) in Greece and to discuss the role of general practice in the epidemiology, early diagnosis, and initial management of this disease.
Design: a prevalence study was carried out in rural Greece between January 17 and December 30, 1997.
Setting: 13 GPs, 11 of those working in 13 rural primary health centers, 1 in the University Hospital of Heraklion and 1 private sector from different Greek districts were invited to participate in the study.
Participants and methods: patients with the following criteria were entered into the study: weight, pain, cramps, burning, itching, formication and swelling. Complete information about patients' history was collected by the general practitioners (GPs) who used a semi-structured questionnaire. The diagnosis of CVI was established with Doppler ultrasound.
Results: Data were based on 6,119 questionnaires and GPs observed 4,502 randomly selected patients. The diagnosis of CVI was established in 993 patients and its prevalence was found to be 11.9% in males and 39.8% in females. Varicose veins were the most frequent clinical finding in patients with vein reflux and diabetes mellitus was the most common co-existing disease in males and hypertension in females.
Conclusions: The prevalence of venous insufficiency (VI) appears to be a frequent health problem in general practice in Greece. It requires further investigation in order to explore the observed differences between various groups.