Have Varicose Veins, Why Worry About Blood Clots?
Varicose veins are certainly a risk to your overall health and well-being. They tend to get worse over time and can impact your quality of life and ability to do the things you love. Untreated vein disease can lead to missed days at work or family fun and skin ulcers that cost the American healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars per year. And they are associated with an increased risk of Superficial and Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Thrombosis.
The most common blood clot seen with varicose veins is superficial vein thrombosis (SVT). An SVT is red, painful, tender, and swollen. The natural progression of SVT symptoms gradually worsens over 5-7 days, plateaus for 7-10 days, and then improves over the next several weeks.
Treatment of an SVT is conservative with compression, elevation, and walking along with aspirin or Motrin for pain. If the SVT is large (10 cm or longer) or it extends close to a deep vein, blood thinners are recommended to keep the clot from progressing to a more serious deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
A DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins in your legs. DVTs are treated with compression, elevation, and anticoagulation. Long-term DVT can cause issues with leg pain and swelling in up to 40% of patients.
Not all DVTs break free and travel to the lungs, but the risk is high enough that measures must be taken by a specialist to address a blood clot in the leg before it has the opportunity to travel to the lungs. If the clot breaks free it can travel to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism. PE is a life-threatening condition that kills one American every 5 minutes.
If you have varicose veins or a family history of venous disease or blood clots, it’s wise to schedule an appointment with a vein specialist. At your evaluation treatment plans can be made to improve your vein health while reducing your risks of developing blood clots.
Take Care of Your Legs
Taking proactive measures to protect the health of your legs is important! This is why we educate about our Better Veins for Life® principles, which help with the prevention and treatment of venous disease.
- Elevating your legs can help reduce pressure on your veins and give your tired, worn-out veins an assist from gravity in getting your blood flowing back up to your heart after it has pooled in your legs.
- Exercise helps keep the blood flowing smoothly, so walking, cycling, and swimming can be great ways to improve your vein health.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, as being overweight or obese adds strain on your veins, affecting healthy circulation.
- Wearing compression socks also helps reduce risks associated with varicose veins or blood clots.
- Reduce your high-heel footwear use, as these put a strain on your veins and can lead to spider veins and varicose veins.
Proactively caring for your leg health may help you avoid having to worry about these issues later down the road. So make sure to take care of your legs today!