Is Smoking a Risk Factor for DVT?

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Is Smoking a Risk Factor for DVT

Learn what DVT is, why it is a potentially dangerous condition, and how smoking increases the risk.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when a blood clot, also called thrombosis, forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body. They’re most common in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis and often cause leg pain or swelling. However, DVT may also occur without symptoms.

Common symptoms of DVT include:

  • Swelling
  • Cramping or soreness
  • Red or discolored skin
  • Warm sensation

Learn the warning signs and risks of DVT

Check out our recent blog for more details on early warning signs of DVT and how to check yourself at home for signs of DVT. DVT can be very serious because when a blood clot in your veins breaks loose, it can travel through your body and eventually get stuck in your lungs. This condition, known as a pulmonary embolism, requires immediate medical treatment because it can be life-threatening.

Warning signs of pulmonary embolism include:

  • Abrupt shortness of breath
  • Chest pain that worsens with deep breathing
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Fainting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Coughing up blood

Seek immediate medical treatment if you develop any sudden or unexpected DVT or pulmonary embolism symptoms.

Medical conditions that increase your risk of DVT

Certain medical conditions may also increase your risk of DVT, like recent hip, leg, or abdomen surgery, trauma or bone fracture, extended sitting or bed rest, cancer, pregnancy, and varicose veins.

Smoking and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

While smoking is more commonly associated with lung diseases such as lung cancer, you may be surprised to learn there is also a strong correlation between smoking and DVT. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, smoking seriously and negatively impacts blood vessels and the heart.

It also impacts the number and quality of blood platelets in your veins. Blood platelets are small, colorless cell fragments in our blood that form clots to stop or prevent bleeding. When you have an abnormally high number of blood platelets, you have an increased risk of developing DVT, blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.

Not only is there a connection between smoking and deep vein thrombosis, but the chance of developing a deep vein blood clot increases the more often a person smokes. The risk rises because the nicotine in cigarettes increases the number of blood platelets and makes them sticky, which means they are more likely to clump together. Blood and blood platelets that want to clump together are dangerous situations, and the main reason smoking is a risk factor for DVT.

How to Lower Your Risk of DVT

Here are a few things you can do to lower your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis and other vein diseases:

  • Stop smoking
  • Engage in regular aerobic exercise (e.g., walking, hiking, jogging, swimming)
  • Avoid long periods of standing or sitting
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay hydrated

Schedule with the vein care experts

Choose a Center for Vein Restoration vein clinic location near you. Or request a consultation with one of our skilled vein care specialists about our safe, effective deep vein thrombosis diagnosis and treatment options.

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