Varicose veins don’t directly cause blood clots, but they can increase your risk of developing a clot. Take steps to care for your veins today!
Even if you don’t see any physical symptoms from varicose veins, it’s always a good idea to talk with a vein specialist and get checked! Visible or not, enlarged veins indicate a breakdown in blood circulation. When your blood flow slows, your risk for complications such as a blood clot increases.
A recent study found that patients with varicose veins are highly prone to developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot that forms in one of the deep veins in the body. While varicose veins won’t cause blood clots, leaving them untreated can increase your risks. That’s why it’s essential to have your veins checked by a vascular specialist and get treatment for your varicose veins today.
How do blood clots form?
You might be wondering, “If varicose veins don’t directly cause blood clots, what’s the link between the two?”
Varicose veins form when blood pools in the vein due to weakened valves that can no longer effectively push blood back to the heart. The swollen vein eventually becomes a visible varicose vein.
The ability of blood to form a clot is beneficial to preventing excessive bleeding after an injury. If left untreated, blood can continue to pool and thicken in the varicose vein, leading blood cells to cluster into clots. These blood clots can be dangerous when they stop blood from flowing to your tissues and organs. Two types of blood clots that can result from varicose veins or poor circulation include:
Superficial Thrombophlebitis. An inflammation just under the skin, often in the leg, symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness. Not considered a serious medical condition, superficial thrombophlebitis can occur after an injury or other stress to the vein. Treatment options include rest, elevation, or compression stockings. A warm compress can ease the pain until it dissolves. Not everyone with varicose veins will have superficial thrombophlebitis.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT forms deeper within the leg veins and can lead to a potentially life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE) if the blood clot breaks away and lodges itself in the lungs. Although the symptoms are similar, DVT is more dangerous than superficial thrombophlebitis. That’s why it’s vital to have a vein specialist evaluate any usual swelling or leg pain. The doctor will use an ultrasound exam to assess blood flow through the veins and pinpoint any blockages.
On the other hand, PE is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Signs of a PE include chest pain, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, coughing up blood, and fainting. If you experience these symptoms, visit the nearest emergency room for treatment.
Preventing a clot
To prevent another clot, you can take precautions to improve blood flow. If you’ve been diagnosed with DVT, your blood may prescribe a blood thinner. Many of these tips work for varicose vein prevention as well as help reduce the symptoms of varicose veins.
Exercise. Exercise prevents blood from stagnating in the vein. Activity that engages the calf muscles, including walking, biking, and swimming, helps the veins pump blood. When blood flows smoothly, it is less likely to clot.
Wear Compression Stockings. Like exercise, compression stockings give the veins extra support in pumping blood by gently squeezing the leg veins. Compression stockings are especially beneficial if you need to remain inactive for long periods of time, such as when you’re traveling or working at a desk.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle. Obesity and smoking increase your risk of varicose veins and blood clots. Maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking will lessen your chances of vascular problems.
If you notice any symptoms of DVT or superficial thrombophlebitis, visit a vein specialist as soon as you can for further evaluation and treatment. Your vein health plays an essential role in your overall health, so never ignore the warning signs of poor circulation!
Take care of your veins
The physicians at Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) are experts in vascular disorders, including varicose veins and DVT. Make regular visits to a vein specialist an essential part of your healthcare routine. Contact CVR today for a consultation!