The epidemiology of varicose veins: the Framingham Study

Am J Prev Med. Mar-Apr 1988;4(2):96-101.


The epidemiology of varicose veins was examined in 3,822 adults in the Framingham Study. Findings indicate that the incidence of varicose veins is higher among women than men, with no clear age differences. Compared to women without varicose veins, women with varicose veins were more often obese (p less than .01), had lower levels of physical activity (p less than .001) and higher systolic blood pressure (p less than .001), and were older at menopause (p less than .001). Women who reported spending eight or more hours in an average day in sedentary activities (sitting or standing) also had a significantly higher incidence of varicose veins than those who spent four or fewer hours a day in such activities (p less than .05). For men, varicose veins coexisted with lower levels of physical activity (p less than .05) and higher smoking rates (p less than .05). While men and women with varicose veins had a higher incidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease than those without varicose veins, only the excess risk of coronary heart disease in women was statistically significant (p less than .05). However, this finding was not significant after controlling for body mass and systolic blood pressure. These results suggest that increased physical activity and weight control may help prevent varicose veins among adults at high risk, and reduce the overall risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease as well.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Exertion
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Varicose Veins / epidemiology*