For the millions of people worldwide suffering from venous disease, it is not uncommon for their cries of help to go ignored. Consider that there are about 250 million cases of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) worldwide. The incidence of venous disease is estimated to be 5-6x the number of arterial cases which tops over the 1 billion mark! If venous disease affects so many people, than why is it largely ignored by the medical community?
In my opinion, education of both patients and physicians seems to be the main reason that venous disease is not taken seriously. As a physician, I can honestly say that I did not learn anything about venous disease in medical school. It was not discussed! Imagine every medical student in the country going off to practice medicine with little to no knowledge of venous disease!
While the medical community is partly to blame for the management of venous disease, patients must also assume some responsibility for their venous health. Many patients do not understand the importance of the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) or DVT. Many patients believe that CVI symptoms are just a normal part of aging or are purely a cosmetic problem and as a result do not seek medical help or even mention it to their doctors.
The third party that has ignored venous disease are the biomedical companies. In terms of vascular disease, their focus has predominantly been on PAD. However this too is starting to change as many companies are now becoming aware of the magnitude of patients suffering from untreated venous disease.
With increasing education and public outreach, my hope is that more patients will be treated for venous disease in the years to come.
Deepak Sudheendra, MD, FSIR, RPVI