The Link Between Obesity and Deep Vein Thrombosis


The Link Between Obesity and Deep Vein Thrombosis
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North Atlanta Vascular Clinic and Vein Center

5/23/2024


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a medical condition in which a blood clot or thrombus occurs in one or multiple deep veins. It is a common condition; nearly 300,000 to 600,000 people are affected yearly. While DVT is primarily seen in the legs, it may also form in your thigh, pelvis area, or arms. 

Obesity is one of the risk factors that can increase the chances of developing DVT among both men and women. Studies show that obese individuals are at twice the risk of DVT, and obese people lower than 40 years of age are at a five-fold risk of DVT. 

This blog explores the link between obesity and DVT, how weight loss helps with DVT, and discusses DVT’s symptoms, causes and risk factors, prevention, and treatment for obese patients.

Impact of Obesity on Blood Circulation and How It Causes DVT

If you are obese, you may be more vulnerable to developing blood clots and coagulations that can impact your blood flow, which subsequently may lead to DVT. Let’s see how.

  • Obesity results in increased production of adipokines such as leptin and adiponectin, which increase the number of platelets in your body, blood cells responsible for blood coagulation, and blood clotting.
  • It may cause overproduction of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 that promotes clot formation.
  • It increases the risk of imbalance in the blood coagulation factors to cause genetic mutations such as F5 G1691A (Factor V Leiden) and F2 G20210A (prothrombin), leading to higher blood clotting risks.

Obesity may also result in venous stasis, in which the veins are unable to send blood from the legs to the heart, causing blood to pool in the lower legs. This condition triggers deep vein thrombosis.

Does Weight Loss Help with DVT?

As mentioned above, obese people are at a higher risk of developing DVT. However, with weight loss, you can significantly reduce your risks. Once you reach a healthy weight, your:

  • Blood circulation improves
  • Lungs function better
  • Muscles become stronger

With proper and timely treatment, deep vein thrombosis is curable. If you undergo weight loss and maintain a healthy weight after that, it significantly reduces the risks of DVT’s:

  • Recurrence
  • Developing into a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism, in which these clots move through the bloodstream and block blood vessels in the lungs.

Symptoms of DVT due to Obesity

If you are obese and have DVT, you may have the following symptoms:

  • Pain, soreness, and swelling in one leg, usually in the calf or thigh region
  • An aching or cramping sensation in the area
  • Warm skin around the clot
  • Discoloration or redness significantly below the back of your knee

However, in many cases, you can have deep vein thrombosis that does not cause any symptoms.

Causes and Risk Factors of DVT due to Obesity

Causes:

Among obese patients, the leading causes of deep vein thrombosis are: 

  • Damage to a vein due to surgery, inflammation, infection, or injury 
  • Long periods of inactivity and sitting
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Heart diseases
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Aging 
  • Birth control pills

Risk Factors:

DVT risk factors due to obesity include:

  • Use of oral contraceptive
  • Imbalance in blood coagulation factors
  • Stasis of blood in the veins
  • Increased platelet activity
  • Inhibition of fibrinolysis or clot breakdown


Tips to Prevent DVT with Obesity 

The following tips have been found to prevent deep vein thrombosis among obese individuals. They include:

  • Do some leg activity like walking around or exercising the lower legs and ankles at regular intervals during long periods of sitting. 
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid extended inactivity periods.
  • Follow a regular exercise schedule.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid smoking

Treatment Options for DVT

The treatments for deep vein thrombosis focus on preventing the clot from increasing in size or breaking into smaller fragments that can travel through your bloodstream and cause potential severe complications. Based on the severity and symptoms of your condition, your physician may recommend the following treatment options:

Medications: Blood thinner medications, also known as anticoagulants, allow blood to flow around a clot and prevent it from traveling to the lungs. They may also help dissolve the clot.

Non-Pharmacological Strategies: Graduated compression stockings, venous foot pumps, and intermittent compression devices ease the pain and swelling by preventing the blood from pooling and clotting.

Minimally Invasive Procedures: Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter: A small filter is implanted in the inferior vena cava, the large vein that returns blood to the heart, to boost blood circulation around a trapped blood clot and prevent its movement to the lungs.

Clot buster: Also known as DVT Thrombolysis, the procedure involves the insertion of a catheter into the leg through which clot-dissolving medications are provided to remove or reduce the clot.

When Must You Consult a Doctor for DVT?

If you experience swelling, pain, heaviness, and discoloration in your leg that intensifies when you sit for a longer time, you must consult a doctor as soon as possible. If you are obese, you are at a higher risk of having DVT and must visit a vascular specialist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment of your condition.

Receive the Best DVT Treatment and Care with Us

North Atlanta Vascular Clinic has provided exceptional vascular care in and around Suwanee/Johns Creek for more than ten years. Our vascular specialists have immense expertise and experience in offering you the highest standards of personalized expert DVT care. If you are looking for specialized care for DVT pain or symptom management, contact us today.


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North Atlanta Vascular Clinic and Vein Center

North Atlanta Vascular Clinic is a vascular surgery center located in Suwanee, Cumming, Alpharetta, and Lawrenceville, Georgia. Our vein disease specialists offer a comprehensive examination that includes a physical examination, review of your symptoms, and discussion of your medical history. We use advanced venography techniques and provide effective treatment for several health conditions like DVT, Spider Veins, Leg Cramps, MTS, and more. Contact us to get accurate diagnosis and treatment for all your vascular diseases.

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