Varicose veins and the complications of venous disease are thought to affect over a quarter of the adult population and the management of these conditions are a major cause of health service expense. Advances in the understanding of venous pathophysiology have highlighted numerous potential targets for pharmacotherapy. This review considers the evidence for pharmacological agents used for the treatment of chronic venous disease. A literature search using Pubmed, Embase and Cinahl databases was performed. The initial search terms ‘varicose vein’, ‘venous ulcer’ and ‘venous disease’ were used with appropriate search limits to identify prospective studies of pharmacotherapy in venous disease. A wide range of venoactive and non-venoactive drugs have been studied in patients with venous disease. The use of micronized purified flavonoid fraction (Daflon) can reduce symptoms of pain, heaviness and oedema in patients with venous reflux and a recent meta-analysis concluded that Daflon improves healing in patients with venous ulceration treated with compression. Pentoxifylline may be a useful adjunct to compression therapy for patients with venous ulceration. Oxerutins and calcium dobesilate may be of benefit in reducing oedema and rutosides may help to relieve the symptoms of varicose veins in pregnancy. The clinical benefits of other medications remain unproven. Although numerous pharmacological agents have been proposed and studied, Daflon has demonstrated the greatest clinical benefits in patients with venous disease. Further research is needed to define the role of venoactive drugs in clinical care and improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of venous disease to help identify new therapeutic avenues.
Keywords: Varicose veins, venous disease, pharmacotherapy, venoactive, phlebotropic, venous hypertension
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