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Ask Dr. Nandi: Are varicose veins a warning sign of potentially deadly clots?

Posted at 5:42 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 17:42:08-05

Varicose veins are not a typically welcomed sight as the bumpy purple veins can make many people self-conscious.  

But new research shows they may be more than a cosmetic concern – they just might be an early warning sign of deadly blood clots.

I’ve talked about this before, it’s called deep venous thrombosis.  It’s a blood clot that forms deep in the veins.  

If it breaks free, it can be life-threatening because the clot can travel up to the lungs and block blood flow.  

Now Taiwanese researchers are linking deep venous thrombosis and varicose veins after looking at over 425,000 health records.  

They found a 5 times increased risk of developing these deadly blood clots in people with varicose veins when compared to those who did not have varicose veins. 

Question: Are varicose veins causing these dangerous blood clots?

The researchers don’t know – they just found a relationship between these two health conditions so more studies are needed to truly answer that.  

In the meantime, you can take preventative steps so here are my prescriptions:

  1. Avoid sitting still or standing for long periods.  Try not to cross your legs as it can affect blood flow.
  2. Get moving.  Regular physical activity will lower your risk of blood clots and get the blood circulating in your legs. 
  3. Watch your weight and what you eat.  Extra weight adds pressure to your veins and a low-salt diet prevents swelling.
  4. Don’t smoke.  It can raise your risk of deep vein thrombosis because it affects circulation.  

I would suggest if you develop or have varicose veins to talk to your doctor.  

You really want to be proactive in taking care of your health as this study shows you could be at a higher risk for something very serious.