Can the Risk of Blood Clots be reduced through Weight Loss?
— By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.
People with obesity have twice the risk of developing venous thromboembolism, and this likelihood increases to sixfold for those with a BMI of 35 or higher.
Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) is the third most common cardiovascular disease, but because these blood clots often go undiagnosed, it can lead to disability or death. People with obesity have twice the risk of developing VTE, and this likelihood increases to sixfold for those with a BMI of 35 or higher.1
Obesity is an independent risk factor for both types of VTE, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE). One reason these clots in the veins go undiagnosed is because patients often are asymptomatic. When left untreated, a DVT clot can break off and cause a pulmonary embolism, and if the clot is large enough, it can be fatal by stopping blood from reaching the lungs. DVT also can lead to Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS), a long-term complication that affects up to half of DVT patients.
Reducing VTE Risk among Obese Populations
The risk of developing DVT increases when patient fall into multiple risk categories. In addition to obesity, this includes related conditions such as slow blood flow resulting from limited movement, heart disease and increased age. Previous DVT or PE, or a family history of DVT or PE also increase the risk.
Fortunately, VTE is preventable. Because the risk of VTE increases with body mass index, weight loss and weight control should be advised for patients with DVT. Also, since roughly 30 percent of people with a blood clot will have another episode within a decade, it is important to minimize risk factors to avoid recurrence.
Since anti-coagulants are commonly used in the treatment of blood clots, it is critical that patients undergo a comprehensive medical nutritional assessment before making dietary changes, including consistency in the intake of vitamin K. A team approach that includes medical monitoring, nutritional counselling, and exercise therapy as part of a behavioral weight management program provide the oversight necessary to minimize health risk, including the efficacy of prescribed anti-coagulants.2
VTE is a serious and potentially fatal condition, but one that can be avoided. Increasing movement through walking and simple exercises that can be done while seated can help prevent clots from forming and are a good start to behavioral changes that include weight loss.
About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.