British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots
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Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Professor Mark Whiteley – a leading consultant venous surgeon – cautioned that caffeine could lead to “sticky blood”, thereby increasing your risk of a blood clot. “Dehydration affects the constituents of the blood, making blood thicker and more ‘sticky’,” Professor Whiteley pointed out. “Blood flows at a slower rate in veins than in arteries. Therefore, being dehydrated can increase the chances of developing a blood clot in the veins.”
Symptoms of DVT in the leg, as pointed out by the NHS include:
- Throbbing or cramping pain in 1 leg (rarely both legs), usually in the calf or thigh
- Swelling in one leg (rarely both legs)
- Warm skin around the painful area
- Red or darkened skin around the painful area
- Swollen veins that are hard or sore when you touch them.
If you think you have DVT, “ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111”.
“These symptoms can also happen in your arm or tummy if that’s where the blood clot is,” the NHS added.
Should any signs of DVT be accompanied by breathlessness or chest pain, “call 999 or got to A&E”.
Professor Whiteley noted tea – the nation’s favourite brew – contains caffeine, “which actually causes you to lose water”.
Thus, in addition to coffee and alcohol, tea “can make dehydration worse”.
The main indicators of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dark yellow or strong-smelling urine
- Feeling lightheaded
- A dry mouth.
“Dehydration means your body loses more water than you take in. Without enough water, your body cannot function properly, and you can become unwell,” Professor Whiteley added.
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“In order to avoid becoming dehydrated, it is important to drink plenty of fluids.”
Yet, as seen above, not all fluids are created equal; some can clearly be more hydrating than others.
Professor Whitely recommends sipping on water, diluted squash, herbal teas, and fruit juice to help remain hydrated.
For hot days and balmy evenings, Professor Whiteley recommends:
- Staying in the shade as much as possible
- Avoiding direct heat, especially during the hottest part of the day.
He added: “Staying hydrated, no matter the weather, will help to improve your vein health.
“Consuming plenty of fluids, whatever the weather, will improve the overall circulation of the blood by thinning it. However, over-drinking can also cause problems.”
Signs of “over-drinking”:
- Sweating at rest
- Urine that is completely colourless (it should be very light yellow)
- Lack of concentration.
Risk factors for developing DVT
Aside from dehydration and sticky blood, a DVT is more likely if you:
- Are over 60
- Are overweight
- Have had DVT before
- Take the contraceptive pill or HRT
- Have cancer or heart failure
- Have varicose veins.
Certain situations could also increase your risk of a DVT, such as going on an extended journey (more than three hours) by plane, car, or train.
Pregnancy could also increase a person’s risk, as could being confined to a bed for an extended period of time.
“If a doctor thinks you have DVT, you should be referred to hospital within 24 hours for an ultrasound scan,” the NHS added.
Professor Mark Whiteley is the leading consultant venous surgeon and founder of The Whiteley Clinic.
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