Varicose veins are generally harmless, but a new study reveals that danger may be lurking.
In superficial vein thrombosis (SVT), varicose veins become inflamed and swollen. This condition is sometimes painful, but like varicose veins it’s regarded as only a minor health threat.
Researchers at two institutions in Graz, Austria, recently mounted a study to see if SVT might be linked to deep vein thrombosis. As I’ve noted in several e-Alerts, DVT is a dangerous condition that prompts blood clotting in the legs. Clots that break away can cause thromboembolism (restricted blood flow), and even death if the clot reaches the lungs and triggers pulmonary embolism.
The Graz team recruited nearly 50 patients with confirmed SVT. Sonography of the legs revealed DVT in one out of four subjects. Almost all of these patients showed no previous symptoms of DVT. In most patients, DVT occurred in the leg affected by SVT, but in some patients the condition was present in both legs.
The researchers suggest that SVT patients should receive color-coded duplex sonography to assess the possibility of DVT.
Putting the K to it
Varicose veins are caused by a variety of factors: genetic inclination, standing occupations, obesity, or multiple pregnancies. But as I pointed out in an e-Alert I sent you last year, whatever the root cause, inactivity of a specific protein may play a key role in varicose vein development.
In a 2007 study from France’s University of Nantes, researchers examined 36 healthy male subjects and 50 male subjects with varicose veins. They found a link between varicosis and inactivity of a protein called matrix GLA protein (MGP). And because MGP is properly activated only when vitamin K levels are adequate, researchers theorize that sufficient intake of the vitamin may play a role in the prevention of varicose veins.
The importance of vitamin K intake for circulatory health is already well known. In his Nutrition & Healing newsletter, Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., has noted that supplementing with K is a good idea if there’s a family history of arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries). Dr. Wright recommends 5 to 15 mg of vitamin K per day – considerably higher than the recommended daily allowance.
But you don’t have to have varicose veins or SVT to experience a DVT-related pulmonary embolism. Read more about DVT dangers and how to avoid them in the e-Alert “Slow on the Draw” (7/21/09).
“Association Between Superficial Vein Thrombosis and Deep Vein Thrombosis of the Lower Extremities” Archives of Dermatology, Vol. 145, No. 7, July 2009, archderm.ama- assn.org
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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