A different way to look at varicose veins

Thom W. Rooke, Cindy L. Felty

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: The development of varicose veins is commonly attributed to vessel wall degeneration. The idea that varicose veins occur because of pathological processes, however, is challenged by certain observations. For example, their high prevalence (50% or greater) in many populations makes it statistically "normal" to have varicose veins; their well-established genetic predisposition raises the possibility that this high prevalence reflects a survival benefit. One way to explain this apparent contradiction is to theorize that varicose veins are produced by the same mechanism(s) that lead to the growth and remodeling of other types of blood vessels. If so, being "good" at forming varicose veins may also predispose to being "good" at forming various types of collateral blood vessels when necessary. Methods: A selected literature review was conducted. Works chosen for review included those suggesting that: the process of varicose vein formation may share the same basic mechanisms as the formation of collateral veins, arteries, and lymphatic vessels; and clinical outcomes may be different between subjects with and without varicose veins. Results: Evidence suggests that subjects who are "good" at forming varicose veins may also be "good" at forming various types of collateral vessels, and they may have better overall survival (with less cardiovascular morbidity) than those without varicose veins. Conclusions: Varicose veins may be "the price we pay" for anenhanced ability to form collateral vessels when necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-211
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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