A systematic review on risk factors in developing a first-time Venous Leg Ulcer

A. M. Meulendijks*, F. M.C. de Vries, A. A. van Dooren, M. J. Schuurmans, H. A.M. Neumann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Venous Leg Ulcers (VLU) occur in about 1% of the Western population. A VLU takes 3–12 months to heal, it recurs often, and it has a negative impact on the quality of life. The risk factors for the development of a first VLU are not well-understood and prevention of a first VLU therefore remains underappreciated. The aim of this study was to identify risk factors for developing a first VLU in adults (aged > 18 years) by searching the literature. We searched the Cochrane Library, Pubmed, Cinalh and Narcisto identify studies that investigated risk factors in developing a VLU. The last search was performed in January 2018. Two reviewers independently reviewed the abstracts and full-text articles, and assessed the methodological quality of the included studies. Results of studies using duplex scanning, and comparing participants with and without VLUs were included in the qualitative analysis. Where possible a quantitative meta-analysis was conducted. We found five studies that investigated the relation of several risk factors with VLU development. The methodological differences of the studies made it impossible to perform a quantitative analysis. The risk factors higher age (four studies), higher body mass index (four studies), low physical activity (four studies), arterial hypertension (four studies), deep vein reflux (three studies), deep venous thrombosis (three studies) and family history of VLU (three studies) were significantly associated with a VLU in the majority of the studies. To what extent they influence the development of a VLU remains unclear because of the limited number of studies that investigated the association of these risk factors with VLU development, and the heterogeneity of these studies. Further studies are needed to confirm the association of these risk factors with the development of a VLU and to explore overweight and low physical activity in more detail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241-1248
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Hypertension/epidemiology
  • Leg Ulcer/epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Varicose Ulcer/epidemiology
  • Venous Thrombosis/epidemiology


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