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35% of Portuguese adults suffer from Chronic Venous Disease

As part of World Health Day on 7 April, it is worth remembering that we should also look after the health of our legs

It is therefore essential to know how to recognise and assess the symptoms and signs of Chronic Venous Disease (CVD), a sometimes disabling condition that is often underestimated in its early stages. In Portugal, CVD affects 35% of the adult population, with a higher incidence in women over 30, and it is worrying that a large majority of affected people do not seek medical help.

"The first complaints of CVD can easily be confused and perceived as normal, and are most often undervalued. It is important to stress that heavy, tired and aching legs, swollen legs and ankles, itching, numbness in the legs and night cramps are the main signs and symptoms of this disease and should not be disregarded. At the slightest suspicion, they should seek a health professional", says Dr. Joana Ferreira - Angiology and Vascular Surgery specialist.

It is also recommended to be alert to the visible signs in the legs. This pathology affects the walls and valves of the leg veins and hinders blood circulation to the heart and, therefore, may manifest itself through the appearance of strokes, varicose veins, oedema and skin pigmentation.

Late diagnosis can affect patients' quality of life, with a significant social and economic impact. It is estimated that CVD is responsible for one million working days lost, 21% of job changes and 8% of early retirements in Portugal.

Adequate and timely treatment is essential. In this sense, patients should seek medical help whenever they suspect they are facing a CVD situation. Diagnosis is simple and aspects related to the disease can be investigated in a medical consultation. This is followed by a physical examination to look for symptoms and signs of the disease. At this stage, a portable Doppler or echo-Doppler may be used to identify the presence of reflux or potential venous occlusion.

Treatment depends on the presence and severity of symptoms and should be adapted on a case-by-case basis, and may include venoactive drugs, elastic compression, as well as surgical interventions. Learn more in


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