Women in nursing professions are at high risk for developing varicose veins as it requires physical work and prolonged standing.

It is well known to vein specialists that individuals with occupations that require long periods of standing such as nurses, physicians, other health care workers, retail workers, flight attendants, hair dressers, etc. have a higher incidence of varicose veins. Over the years, many studies have substantiated this, and we know from clinical practice that many of our patients are nurses. Nurses who have 12 hour shifts stand on their legs half the day! Nurses who work with radiation wear heavy lead vests throughout the day.

A recent cross sectional study at Dhulikhel Hospital in Nepal, evaluated 181 female nurses for varicose veins and their risk factors.   The participants underwent Doppler ultrasound to confirm venous reflux disease and varicose veins, using standard criteria. Out of the 181 nurses, 83 (46%) had varicose veins. In the adjusted model the odds of having varicose veins was 27 times greater with every hour increase in standing time.

Another study in 2018, at a University Hospital in Korea evaluating 414 nurses also showed that standing for long periods of time increased the risk of varicose veins. However, the prevalence of varicose veins among nurses in this study was only 16%. The differences among the two studies may be the average age of the nurses studied, parity or number of years in nursing. Increasing age and number of births is also a risk factor varicose veins.

As a result, we always recommend all our nurses to wear compression stockings when at work. Everyone in our practice wears compression stockings on a daily basis (typically a knee high sock, 20-30mmhg of compression).

 

1: Shakya R, Karmacharya RM, Shrestha R, Shrestha A. Varicose veins and its risk factors among nurses at Dhulikhel hospital: a cross sectional study. BMC Nurs.2020 Feb 3;19:8. doi: 10.1186/s12912-020-0401-8.1: Yun MJ, Kim YK, Kang DM, Kim JE, Ha WC, Jung KY, Choi HW. A Study on

2: Prevalence and Risk Factors for Varicose Veins in Nurses at a University
Hospital. Saf Health Work. 2018 Mar;9(1):79-83. doi: 10.1016/j.shaw.2017.08.005.
Epub 2017 Aug 24.