Medical research has indicated a strong link between genetics and deep vein thrombosis, but patients who are at risk of developing DVT can take measures to prevent it.
If you smoke, carry excess pounds, are confined to bed after surgery, or spend many hours seated on a plane, you have a greater chance of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Those factors are well known. Over the past decade, however, scientific studies have explored whether family history and genetics play key roles in determining who is at higher risk of DVT.
Knowing your potential for DVT may possibly help you prevent a clot from forming in your lower extremities, a potentially dangerous situation if the clot travels to the lung or heart. To find out why DVT occurs in some people and not others, medical researchers have analyzed how specific gene mutations as well as family history increases the prospect a person may suffer a DVT. If genetic testing unearths those factors, individuals can take steps to reduce their risks.
Family and Genes: What the Studies Say
A 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded the chance of DVT rose 2.5 times in subjects with a close relative (parent or sibling) with a history of the condition. When only genetic factors were analyzed, the risk increased at about the same rate (2.3 times). Taken together, genetics and family history boosted the odds of DVT by 6.3 times.
If the individual was found to have a family history of DVT, a genetic mutation linked to DVT, and environmental risk factors like obesity, pregnancy, and smoking, that person’s risk multiplied by 64 times.
In 2015, medical researchers focused on two genetic elements—the FV Leiden mutation and Prothrombin 20210—in a population of Iranian citizens. The results, published in the Thrombosis Journal, found the FV Leiden mutation significantly heightened the risk of DVT. Conversely, they found no connection between Prothrombin 20210 and a higher chance of DVT.
The Genes Known to Up the Risk of DVT
In particular, the FV Leiden factor escalates an individual’s DVT risk. That’s because this genetic alteration impedes the body’s anticoagulation system. Even though only about three percent of people have this mutation, it accounts for between 20% to 40% of DVT cases.
Other genetic factors can contribute to a greater probability of DVT as well. Abnormalities detected in Protein C, Protein S, and Antithrombin III seem to interfere with the body’s natural ability to coagulate, which can lead to blood clots. Being aware of these abnormalities could help patients mitigate their risk of having a blood clot. For example, Antithrombin III deficiency could be managed with anticoagulation medications.
Know Your Risks So You Can Prevent DVT
If you have a family history of DVT, or if you’ve undergone a genetic test that shows a predisposition to the condition, you can follow some tips to keep your veins healthy. Lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and maintaining your proper weight with regular exercise that pumps blood to the legs all aid in DVT prevention. When seated on a plane or in a car for long hours, makes sure to get up and walk around frequently. These actions prevent blood from pooling in the veins.
The specialists at the Center for Vein Restoration can further discuss ways to reduce your chances of suffering from DVT. Our knowledge and individual treatment plans can alleviate any concerns you may have about this serious venous disorder. Schedule your consultation today.