Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the leg. It’s a condition that can cause potentially life-threatening pulmonary embolism if it occurs in the thigh and travels higher, blocking off the main blood flow to the lungs. It’s a common fear, especially as the risk increases with age. Well-known risk factors include coronary heart disease, blood clot disorders, previous thrombosis and chronic heart failure. But here are some factors you might not even know are putting you at risk of DVT.
Vitamin D deficiency
Make sure you’re getting your vitamin D dosage. A study referred to by WebMD found that when comparing people who had DVT to those who had not, sufferers had, on average, lower levels of vitamin D. So step out into the sun or chow-down on some fish, as the stakes might be quite high.
Surgeries themselves may put you at a higher risk of DVT as veins may be damaged, particularly on operations involving the legs, abdomen, hips or pelvis. But the bed rest post-surgery is also a risky time, as a lack of movement can slow your blood flow through the body. So try to get moving as soon as you’re able, and consider speaking to your doctor about the use of blood thinners.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Not only is the inflammation that causes bowel disease linked to clots in the blood, but those who suffer from them are also more likely to need surgery, require more bed rest and also be dehydrated, all of which increases their chance of DVT. According to WebMD, people who suffer from bowel disease – including Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis – may have double or triple the risk of blood clots compared to those who don’t.
Hormones aren’t helping
Menopause hormone replacement therapy contains estrogen, which makes blood clots more likely, and certain types of treatment like patches, can contain 60 per cent more estrogen, increasing your risk again. But don’t feel too special just yet, men; taking testosterone has also been shown to increase the risk of clotting.
Bigger might not be better
If you’re on the heavier side on the scales – we’re talking a BMI of 25 or over, then according to WebMD, you’ve doubled your chance of getting DVT. This is because the extra body mass puts more strain and pressure on your veins, so lowering excess body fat may also lower your chances of a blood clot.
According to Mayo Clinic, smoking increases your risk of DVT as it harms your body’s circulation and helps create blood clots. Smoking also damages your heart and blood vessels.
Being an athlete
It might be time to rethink the marathon. Endurance athletes who run marathons or triathlons are more likely to experience injury and dehydration, and the symptoms for DVT are often camouflaged among other common injuries.
Sitting still for long periods of time, whether while driving, flying or behind the desk could put you at risk, says Mayo Clinic. When the muscles in your legs move and contract they help blood circulate around the body, so sitting down for a prolonged time can increase the risk of clots forming in your calves. Make sure to get up and walk around regularly, when and where possible.
Did any of these risk factors shock you? If you know something about DVT that we’ve missed, let us know in the comment section below.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.