Clinically Recognized Varicose Veins and Physical Function in Older Individuals: The ARIC Study

Yejin Mok, Junichi Ishigami, Yingying Sang, Anna M. Kucharska-Newton, Maya Salameh, Jennifer A. Schrack, Priya Palta, Josef Coresh, B. Gwen Windham, Pamela L. Lutsey, Aaron R. Folsom, Kunihiro Matsushita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although a few studies reported an association between varicose veins and physical function, this potentially bidirectional association has not been systematically evaluated in the general population. Method: In 5 580 participants (aged 71-90 years) from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, varicose veins were identified in outpatient and inpatient administrative data prior to (prevalent cases) and after (incident cases) visit 5 (2011-2013). Physical function was evaluated by the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB, score ranging from 0 to 12). We evaluated (i) cross-sectional association between prevalent varicose veins and physical function, (ii) association of prevalent varicose veins with subsequent changes in physical function from visit 5 to visits 6 (2016-2017) and 7 (2018-2019), and (iii) association of physical function at visit 5 with incident varicose veins during a median follow-up of 3.6 years (105 incident varicose veins among 5 350 participants without prevalent cases at baseline). Results: At baseline, varicose veins were recognized in 230 (4.1%) participants and cross-sectionally associated with reduced physical function. Longitudinally, prevalent varicose veins were not significantly associated with a decline in SPPB over time. In contrast, a low SPPB ≤6 was associated with a greater incidence of varicose veins compared to SPPB ≥10 (adjusted hazard ratio 2.13 [95% confidence interval = 1.19, 3.81]). Conclusion: In community-dwelling older adults, varicose veins and low physical function were associated cross-sectionally. Longitudinally, low physical function was a risk factor for incident varicose veins, but not vice versa. Our findings suggest an etiological contribution of low physical function to incident varicose veins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637-1643
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved.


  • Epidemiology
  • Physical function
  • Varicose veins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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