Links between BMI and the increasing incidence/prevalence of chronic oedema: what is our future?

There are five important points of note. Firstly, the prominence and importance of the lymphatic system has been elevated with the knowledge that it is the only path by which all that leaks out of the vascular system is returned to it. Secondly, we are facing a potentially massive epidemic of chronic oedema associated with increasing body mass indexes (BMIs). Thirdly, chronic oedema is linked to a range of other pathologies, including lipodermatosclerosis, fibrosis and papillomatosis, all of which add a further burden to the patient’s health and wellbeing (Partsch and Lee, 2014). Fourthly, despite the extremely important role of the lymphatics, we must not forget the venous system and of the impact of poor venous health on the lymph load and tissue health; for this reason, lymphologists and phlebologists must work closer together in an improved partnership. Lastly, we must consider the reasons for increasing BMIs, and this can sometimes be the largest obstacle, but certainly to tackle the problem at its root and to be proactive in our health maintenance, we also need the involvement of our public health colleagues, dieticians and nutritionists. 



  • Neil Piller

    Director, Lymphoedema Research Unit, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


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