The short answer is yes, but very, very rarely can varicose veins be fatal. Varicose veins are a slow progressing disease that usually causes discomfort and pain, but rarely leads to a life-threatening problem. The cases where someone died from varicose vein disease are few and far between and usually involve a hemorrhage of the vein. These hemorrhages occurred when a patient’s vein burst from swelling caused by varicose veins. This is in no way a common occurrence. At the Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City, when we examine our patients, we are are trained to look for and recognize potentially hemorrhagic varicose veins. When we something concerning, we will offer advice on how to treat these veins to avoid any major hemorrhaging.
Complications of Varicose Veins
While complications from varicose veins are rare, they can also occur. Here are the most common complications:
Skin Ulcers – A discolored spot on the skin usually begins before an ulcer forms. A skin ulcer develops when an area of skin breaks down to reveal the underlying flesh. Ulcers are caused by long-term fluid buildup in these tissues, caused by increased pressure of blood within affected veins. Venous leg ulcers mainly occur just above the ankle. See your doctor immediately if you suspect you’ve developed an ulcer.
Blood clots – Inflammation, discoloration, or ulceration of the skin or swelling of the calf or leg is typical of problems related to the deeper veins, especially a blood clot. Any sudden leg swelling warrants urgent medical attention because it may indicate a blood clot – a condition known medically as deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
Bleeding – Occasionally, veins very close to the skin may burst. This usually causes only minor bleeding. But, any bleeding warrants medical attention because there’s a high risk it can happen again.
Should you experience any of these problems, see a doctor immediately.