Effect of chronic venous insufficiency on activities of daily living and quality of life: Correlation of demographic factors with duplex ultrasonography findings

Roberto Chiesa, Enrico Maria Marone, Costanzo Limoni, Marina Volonté, Eckhard Schaefer, Orlando Petrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study evaluates to what extent symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and functional venous incompetence as investigated using color-coded duplex ultrasonography may interfere with activities of daily living (ADLs). This study comprises a cross-sectional survey conducted in urban areas surrounding 24 Italian cities. A spontaneous sample of 5187 subjects (4457 women [mean age, 54 years] and 730 men [mean age, 61 years]), selected by advertising on television and in newspapers, underwent a clinical examination that included duplex ultrasonography in 3 vein segments in both legs to determine the presence and severity of venous reflux. Subjective perception of lower limb symptoms of CVI and the effect of leg problems on the ability to perform normal ADLs are assessed by means of a self-administered questionnaire. Most of the respondents have some CVI symptoms, with women being 1.5 to 3 times as likely as men to report leg symptoms. The risk of developing the most frequent subjective symptoms such as heaviness and tiredness in the legs is not statistically significantly different for younger subjects compared with older subjects. Advanced age is considered to be a relevant risk factor only for heat sensation and swollen legs. Persons living in southern Italy are at higher risk of almost all lower limb symptoms. Results of duplex ultrasonography performed on 3875 subjects show that fewer than 1 in 5 young persons, regardless of sex, manifest some degree of venous reflux (primarily mild symptoms). The risk of developing venous incompetence increases rapidly with age until it triples among subjects 50 years and older. Adjusting for all other factors, men are on average 1.5 times as likely as childless women to have venous reflux, and the risk increases in the case of family history of CVI or (among women) in the case of past pregnancies. More women than men report that their leg problems affect their ADLs. Pregnancy and living in the south contribute to a reduction in the ability to perform most heavy housework. Although milder lower limb symptoms such as evening heaviness and tiredness in the legs may begin early in life, venous reflux and related symptoms of heat sensation and swollen legs become more pronounced with age, and their severity can be disabling for those afflicted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-449
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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