Why venous disease should be monitored “for life”

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THE ESSENTIAL

  • Venous disease is a chronic disease that cannot be cured
  • As it is progressive, care is essential to avoid reaching the most serious stages

“We must monitor the disease for life.” If it can be considered as a minor pathology and even sometimes as a simple cosmetic problem related to the presence of varicose veins on the legs, venous disease should be taken seriously. As Christelle Bougard, vascular doctor and phlebologist points out at the outset, it is better to be attentive to the appearance of any symptom, the first often being heaviness in the legs, impatience or night cramps, since venous disease is a disease which one does not cure and which can, if it is not taken care of, evolve towards serious forms.

Management which is characterized in France by an estimated delay of 7 years between the first signs of the disease and the first consultation with a general practitioner or a specialist. “The feeling of the disease is very variable, explains Dr. Christelle Bougard, but it is necessary to consult even if one does not have pain because the pain is not proportional to the importance of the disease”.

Medical follow-up, guarantee of a normal life

“Venous insufficiency is a chronic disease, we screen it when there are symptoms and we treat it but you have to come back every year to monitor your legs,” insists the phlebologist, recalling that the quality of this medical follow-up is guarantee of a “normal” life. “When we explained to the patients that they should be followed regularly, practice regular physical activity to help venous return or wear compression for prevention, they are relieved and continue to live as before,” adds Christelle Bougard.

And this need for medical monitoring of venous disease concerns all age groups. Because the pathology can appear before 20 years, especially in the event of heredity, this being the major risk factor and concerning as well the men as the women and being able to come with equality of the father or the mother. This weight of heredity in venous disease is very important since it increases the risk of having varicose veins from 50% if one of the two parents has 90% when both parents have them. And above all, this risk factor is essential, unlike those on which we can act such as sedentary lifestyle or overweight.

A progressive disease

The other reason to watch closely for signs of venous disease is that it is progressive. So not only is it not cured, but it can get worse over time if it is not taken care of. We thus distinguish 7 stages of the disease: the stage of pain or heaviness in the legs, the stage of the appearance of spider veins which can be treated by injection of sclerosing products, the stage of varicose veins which, despite surgical treatment, with endovenous laser or to sclerotherapy may reappear, the stage of venous edema characterized by swelling of the ankle and which requires the wearing of compression garments, the stage of skin complications, that of venous ulcers whose healing is difficult and that of complications severe, varicose hemorrhage or phlebitis, the latter of which can cause pulmonary embolism with a life-threatening risk.

“Phlebitis is the major complication of varicose veins; when the leg becomes bulky, red and painful, these are signs that announce it,” concludes Dr Christelle Bougard. A way to remember that venous disease is chronic, progressive, and also potentially very serious.

Below is an interview with Dr. Christelle Bougard, a vascular doctor and phlebologist:

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