STUDY OBJECTIVE--To assess the prevalence and the extent of treatment of varicose veins in a Finnish population. DESIGN--A prevalence study in a defined cohort was performed by using a mailed questionnaire. The method's validity was tested in a random sample of 166 individuals who were studied clinically. SUBJECTS--In 1989 a questionnaire was mailed to every resident born in 1929, 1939, and 1949 who was living in Tampere, the second largest town in Finland. The eligible population comprised 3284 men and 3590 women. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--The response rate was 75% in men and 86% in women. Both the sensitivity and specificity of the self assessed diagnosis were 0.92. The life time prevalence of varicose veins was 18% for men and 32% for women, with an increasing prevalence in relation to age. Twenty five per cent of the men and 41% of the women who reported varicose veins had received treatment. CONCLUSIONS--Self reporting of varicose veins by mailed questionnaire was a relatively valid method. The prevalence of varicose veins was high in the population studied, and the disease is more common in women than men. Moreover, the prevalence increased with age. The results are comparable with other western populations. Preventive methods are needed because treatment alone seems to be inadequate in the control of varicose veins.
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