Background: The role of heredity in the development of varicose veins of the lower limbs has been raised many times in the literature. When evaluating this role, most authors only question the patients, without examining their relatives. As shown in other papers, the subjectivity of this type of data throws doubt on the results.
Objective: This problem was evaluated by means of a prospective study based on clinical examination of all immediate family members.
Methods: In the case-control study, the female or male patients had to satisfy the following criteria: 1. Varicose veins in their legs. 2. Age between 30 and 40 years (meaning that, in most cases, their parents were still alive). 3. No history of deep vein thrombosis. To limit the influence of certain confusing factors (diet, life-style), the control group was composed of the patients' spouses, who were not suffering from varicose veins. The parents of the cases and the parents of the controls were also examined. For each case-control couple and for the four parents, we recorded the history of venous disease, the life-style, and the results of clinical examination, including the results of palpation and percussion of the various varicose vein territories.
Results: One hundred and thirty-four families were examined: 67 patients and their parents and 67 controls and their parents. A total of 402 subjects were examined. The results demonstrated a prominent role of heredity in the development of varicose veins (P < .001). The risk of developing varicose veins for the children was 90% when both parents suffered from this disease, 25% for males and 62% for females when one parent was affected, and 20% when neither parent was affected.