Varicose veins are often thought of as trivial. Indeed, many doctors, nurses and patients regard varicose veins as “only cosmetic”.
Research over the years has shown this to be wrong. Varicose veins can cause a host of problems if left untreated. These include aching, clots (“phlebitis”), bleeding, skin damage and leg ulcers (see: https://thewhiteleyclinic.co.uk/self-assessment/ceap-classification/). However, death from varicose veins is rare.
Thanks to this improved understanding of varicose veins, NICE now recommends treatment for varicose veins with any symptoms or signs (NICE CG 168).
However, despite this, it is hard to dispel the perception that varicose veins are not important. So many of the public, medical and nursing professions still do not take varicose veins seriously.
A rare case of death from varicose veins has been reported in the Medico-Legal Journal (see: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0025817216678712).
Bleeding is a recognised complication of untreated varicose veins. Any vein specialist who has sufficient experience will be able to give stories of patients who have come close to death from bleeding from untreated varicose veins. However, death is fortunately very rare.
In this case, the case was found dead with blood over the floor. At first it was thought to be murder (homicide). However, examination showed that the cause was bleeding from varicose veins.
Bleeding from varicose veins can occur without warning. The easiest way to prevent this is to have the varicose veins treated before they bleed.
Optimal treatment starts with a venous duplex ultrasound, and then an individualised treatment, planned on the results of the scan (https://thewhiteleyclinic.co.uk/diagnosis/duplex-ultrasound-scanning/).
If you are unfortunate enough to bleed from your varicose veins, lie down and elevate your leg. Pressure in varicose vein comes from gravity. If the leg is higher than the heart, the bleeding will stop,
Depending where you are, either get someone to call an ambulance and stay where you are until they arrive. If you cannot, then push with one finger on the bleeding point and then get to a place of safety and call an ambulance.