Drinking alcohol can sometimes be a touchy issue between patients and doctors. But it's a topic you should talk about with yours when you have deep vein thrombosis.
Alcohol itself, in low to moderate amounts, isn't likely to raise your DVT risk. It may even protect healthy adults. It can act as a blood thinner. And a researcher in Norway found studies that show the more you drink, the lower your blood clot risk.
The greatest danger from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is that the clot will break loose, travel through your blood, and damage an organ.
"The place it gets stuck most commonly is the lungs, and that's called a pulmonary embolism (PE)," says Molly Cooke, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco. Less often, another clot can form and travel to the brain and cause a stroke. If a clot travels to the heart, it could cause a heart attack. A clot in the kidneys can cause kidney failure.
But moderation is key. Doctors don't recommend drinking alcohol to protect against DVT.
The relationship between alcohol and deep vein thrombosis may depend on what, and how much, you pour in your glass.
Beer and Wine
A 2013 study of almost 60,000 people found no difference in the risk of blood clots between wine or beer drinkers.
An antioxidant found in the skin of grapes, resveratrol, helps fight blood clots.
Another study found that, compared to non-drinkers, people who drank more than 3 ounces of liquor per week had a 53% higher risk of DVT.
It might be a question of habits. People who said they drink a lot of liquor also tended to binge drink, which counteracts any helpful affects you might get from alcohol in moderation.
Blood Thinner Drugs
Be careful about drinking if you're taking a blood thinner, such as warfarin (Coumadin).
Your liver breaks down alcohol and some medications. If it's busy working on the alcohol instead of your blood thinner, the level of the drug in your blood will go up and raise your bleeding risk.
When you drink, you might get tipsy and lose your balance, too. You don't want to fall and hurt yourself. That could be very dangerous, especially if you hit your head.
Having a drink or two every once in a while is probably fine when you're on blood thinners -- just be sure to talk to your doctor. If you're a regular drinker, you may need to get your medication levels checked more often.