Epidemiologic research in chronic venous disease has focused on prevalence and associated risk factors. Evidence on the risks and incidence that this condition will develop is limited. The aim of this study was to measure the incidence of new varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) in an adult population and to investigate risk factors associated with the development of these conditions.
The Edinburgh Vein Study is a cohort study of a random sample of the general population. Invitations were sent to 1456 men and women at baseline to participate in a 13-year follow-up examination. Each participant completed a questionnaire on lifestyle and medical history and underwent an examination that included clinical classification of venous disease.
After a mean follow-up of 13.4 (standard deviation, 0.4) years, 880 of 1456 individuals participated (60.4% response). The overall incidence (95% confidence interval [CI]) of C2 varicose veins was 18.2% (15.2%-21.6%), giving an annual incidence rate of 1.4% (1.1%-1.7%), with incidence rates similar in men and women: the 13-year age-adjusted incidence of varicose veins was 15.2% (10.4%-20.0%) in men and 17.4% (13.1%-21.7%) in women (P = .97). The 13-year incidence of varicose veins increased consistently with age from 9.8% in those aged 18 to 34 years to 25.7% in those aged 55 to 64 years (P < .001). The 13-year incidence (95% CI) of CVI was 9.2% (7.0%-11.9%), and the annual incidence rate was 0.7% (0.5%-0.9%). The incidence of CVI was similar in men and women and increased consistently with age (P < .001). Participants with a family history of venous disease were more likely to develop C2 varicose veins (odds ratio, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.12-2.71). Obesity was associated with the development of CVI: the 13-year incidence (95% CI) was 6.1% (3.7%-9.6%) in those who were of normal weight and 23.6% (14.2%-37.0%) in obese participants, with an age-adjusted odds ratio of 3.58 (1.70-7.56).
The Edinburgh Vein Study is one of a few cohort studies to report the incidence of varicose veins and CVI in the general population. The incidence of varicose veins and CVI did not differ significantly by sex and was strongly associated with increasing age. The risk of developing varicose veins was increased in those with a family history, and the risk of CVI was increased in those with higher body mass index.