The prevalence of obesity is rising among adults and children in the U.S. According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity affects 42% of adults and 19.3% of children in the U.S.
Obesity occurs when the body mass index exceeds 30kg/m2, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as blood clot formation in the veins.
How does obesity cause these cardiovascular diseases, and how can you prevent them?
Read on to discover the link between obesity and blood clot formation, including the various prevention and treatment methods.
How does obesity cause blood clots?
Obesity causes low-grade chronic inflammatory changes in the body, which leads to a gradual rise in systemic chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines alter the function of the inner lining of the blood vessels and cause a dysfunction in the blood clotting mechanism.
This results in blood clots formation through the activation of platelets and other necessary blood clotting factors. These blood clots are not broken down immediately because the secreted cytokines dysregulate the blood clotting process.
These blood clots develop faster when there is a stagnation of blood flow. This is common in the leg veins and is called venous thrombosis. It is common, especially in individuals with predispositions such as varicose veins and a sedentary lifestyle.
Early diagnosis and swift treatment are essential in preventing venous thrombosis complications.
Signs and symptoms of venous thrombosis
Here are the signs and symptoms of venous thrombosis:
- Pain in your calf
- Swelling on one leg
- Warmth in one leg
- Unexplained red discoloration on one leg.
The blood clots in these veins are unstable, so they can dislodge and flow towards the lungs to block large blood vessels leading to pulmonary embolism. This is a medical emergency because it’s a life-threatening complication.
The following clinical symptoms are the warning signs of venous thromboembolism:
- Sudden chest pain worsened by breathing.
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Unexplained dizziness
- Rapid breathing and pulse rate
- Coughing up blood
Prevention of venous thrombosis
The following measures are essential in preventing venous thrombosis in obese individuals:
- Weight management: Adjust your lifestyle and diet to control your weight and carry out structured exercises to burn fat.
- Regular screening: If you are obese, you need to see a vein specialist to regularly examine and screen you for venous thrombosis.
- Stay active: Maintain a consistent daily physical activity routine and avoid prolonged sitting. Wear elastic compression stockings when you embark on a long trip.
Treatment of venous thromboembolism
The choice of treatment for venous thrombosis depends on the disease stage at diagnosis. However, treatment goals are to prevent the blood clots from enlarging and dislodging to block the heart vessels.
The following are the therapeutic interventions:
- Compression stockings: These elastic stockings compress the leg veins and prevent stagnation of venous blood. This reduces the risk of venous thrombosis.
- Medications: There are two types of drugs used: blood thinners and thrombolytics. Blood thinners help to prevent the formation of blood clots. They are available in oral or intravenous forms. Thrombolytic drugs break down preexisting blood clots and are prescribed to those with severe venous thrombosis.
- Surgery involves inserting filters into your inferior vena cava(the large vein that returns peripheral blood to the heart). These filters prevent dislodged blood clots from blocking the pulmonary blood vessels.
Are you at risk of venous thrombosis?
At Virginia Vein Care, our vein specialists have the experience and competence to carry out screening procedures for venous thrombosis.
If you are at risk of deep vein thrombosis, schedule a call with a Virginia Vein Care location close to you today.