If you’ve been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), you might be wondering if you’re at a higher risk for other health problems, too. DVT is when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in your body (usually in your leg). Sometimes clots form in veins for no apparent reason. But many conditions increase your odds of developing DVT. You might have had these problems before you developed DVT. In some cases, you might not be diagnosed with them until after you get DVT. Here’s what you need to know.
Conditions Linked to DVT
Atrial fibrillation (AFib). This type of irregular heartbeat can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart problems. AFib my cause blood to pool in your heart’s upper chambers, raising the odds that blood clots will form. You’re at an especially high DVT risk the first 6 months after being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. The reasons the two conditions are linked is unknown. One possible reason: You may be more likely to be hospitalized with AFib, and being on bed rest can contribute to clotting. What’s more, many people with AFib also have other conditions, like diabetes, that increase their DVT risk.
Bed rest. If you’ve been told to stay off your feet because of an injury or illness, or because you were paralyzed, you have a higher risk of DVT. Clots are more likely to form in your calves if you don’t move your legs regularly.
A bone fracture, leg injuries, and/or surgery. Breaking a bone, injuring your leg, or having surgery all make clots more likely. These things create inflammation in your body, which can also lead to clots. Your odds of DVT go up if you were injured in or had surgery on your pelvic area, abdomen, hip, knee, or leg.
Cancer. The gene changes that lead to certain types of cancer increase things in your blood called clotting factors that, as their name implies, help your blood clots. So can many chemotherapy drugs used to fight cancer. Those that are linked to a higher risk of DVT include pancreatic, lung, ovarian, kidney, stomach, brain, blood, and uterine cancers. On top of this, cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and those that involve catheters (putting tubes in your veins to deliver medication) also raise your blood clot risk.
Diabetes. You’re more likely to get DVT if you have diabetes. That’s especially true if you have other inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, or if you have to have surgery. Doctors aren’t sure how they’re linked, but studies have found that people with diabetes had differences in various stages of the clotting process that made clots more likely.
Factor V Leiden. This is a mutation, or change, in one of the clotting factors in your blood. If you have it, you’re more likely to get blood clots in your legs and lungs. If you know you have Factor V Leiden, your doctor may suggest medication to prevent clots.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which are both forms of IBD, increase your odds of DVT. Hospital stays, inflammation, and a lack of nutrients are some of the things that link IBD and DVT.
May-Thurner syndrome. This happens when the right iliac artery, which is deep in in your torso, presses on the left iliac vein. This can block blood flow and result in clots. Most people with May-Thurner syndrome don’t know they have it until after they get DVT.
Prothrombin gene mutation. A mutation is a change in a gene. This one causes your body to create extra prothrombin, a protein found in blood plasma. Too much of it can lead to blood clots.
Pregnancy. Pregnant women and those who’ve had a baby within the past 3 months are at a higher risk for blood clots. When you’re pregnant, your blood clots more than normal. That helps you lose less blood during labor and delivery, but it also ups your odds of getting DVT. What’s more, having a growing baby pressing on blood vessels in your pelvic area can block blood flow to your legs later in pregnancy. Slower blood flow boosts your odds of clots. Bed rest during or after pregnancy, C-sections, and other issues can all boost your chances of DVT.