Epidemiological study on chronic venous disease in Belgium and Luxembourg: prevalence, risk factors, and symptomatology

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2015 Apr;49(4):432-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2014.12.031. Epub 2015 Feb 18.


Objective: This epidemiological study measured the prevalence of chronic venous disease (CVD) in Belgium and Luxembourg. Possible risk factors and the symptomatology were evaluated.

Material and methods: A survey was carried out in Belgium and Luxembourg between May and September 2013. Patient recruitment was carried out by 406 general practitioners (GPs). Each GP screened 10-20 consecutive patients older than 18 years, and in total 6009 patients were included. Patient characteristics, prevalence of risk factors, symptomatology, and C-classification were noted. The GPs diagnosed CVD and measured the need for treatment. Patients with diagnosed CVD completed a questionnaire about their history of leg problems and a quality of life score (CIVIQ-14). These data were converted into a CIVIQ Global Index Score (GIS).

Results: The mean age of the patients was 53.4 years, and they were predominantly female (67.5%). Among the 3889 symptomatic patients, heavy legs, pain, and sensation of leg swelling were the most common complaints. Among the included patients, 61.3% of patients were classified within C1-C6; however, only 45.9% of these patients were considered by the GPs to be suffering CVD. Treatment was offered to 49.5% of patients. Age and female gender correlate with a higher C-class (p < .001). Patients with a higher C-class (C3-C6) have significantly more pain, sensation of swelling and burning, night cramps, itching, and the sensation of "pins and needles" in the legs. Patients taking regular exercise and without a family history had a lower C-class. Higher BMI, age, female gender, family history, history of thrombophlebitis, and a higher C-class correlated with a lower GIS (p < .001). Of the patients with CVD, 10.4% had lost days of work because of their venous leg problems.

Conclusion: CVD is a very common disease, which is underestimated. The prevalence increases with age, generates incapacity to work, and worsens the patients' quality of life.

Keywords: Chronic venous disease; Epidemiology; Risk factors; Symptomatology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Luxembourg / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vascular Diseases / epidemiology*