Risk factors for varicose veins

Int Angiol. 2004 Mar;23(1):29-34.


Aim: To determine the prevalence of varicose veins in the German population and specify possible risk factors the data of the Duesseldorf/Essen civil servants study were analysed.

Methods: From December 1989 to July 1993 a total of 9 935 employees were recruited. All volunteers filled out a questionnaire regarding family history and risk factors and were clinically examined. Venous findings were classified and adapted to the CEAP-classification. For the analysis of risk factors only volunteers classified as CEAP-class 0 or as CEAP-class II were considered: 4 250 men, 10% belonged to CEAP-class II and 2 380 women including 16% CEAP-class II.

Results: In general, age and gender were the most relevant risk factors for varicose veins. Odds ratio age: male: 3.4 (95%-CI: 2.6-4.4), age female 6.5 (95%-CI: 5.0-8.5), gender 2.3 (95%-CI 1.9-2.7). In addition in females the most frequent risk factors were oral contraception and in both genders a predominately sitting posture at work. Regarding the family history, varicose veins by the mother was most frequent compared to varicose veins by the father or both. After adjusting for age and gender heridity became the most important risk factor with an odds ratio of 5.2 (95%-CI:3.7-7.3-4.50) in case of varicose veins present in both parents, followed by a standing posture at work 2.2 (95%-CI: 1.2-3.9). In contrast, smoking also reached a significant level, but with a decreased odds ratio of 0.66 (95%-CI: 0.57-0.77) indicating a protective effect.

Conclusion: In addition to age and gender a family history of varicose veins is the most important risk factor in the total population. Despite significant influence of other risk factors their relevance for varicose veins in the investigated population is low either due to low frequencies or low odds ratios.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Varicose Veins / epidemiology*
  • Varicose Veins / etiology